Editor’s note: Today’s guest editorial was written by Phil Jurmu, chairman of Longview Citizens for Quality Schools. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.
State law gives school districts one way to repair, remodel and build new facilities and that’s by passing a capital bond. So, how do school districts pass bond measures?
After researching successful bond campaigns in other districts, we were told: 1) listen to the citizens; 2) Ask for and build support and; 3) Deal with the cost issue head on. The team at Longview Schools held 14 community input sessions and conducted three public surveys, and the elements people identified as important are in the bond measure. The bond focuses on school safety, upgrading vocational programs, building two new schools to expand capacity for the future and reduce the reliance on portables; making major repairs across the district and upgrading Memorial Stadium. This bond provides for improvements at every school and for every child. Improving our schools will provide much needed safety, which is something we need to be concerned with these days. Schools will be retrofitted with modern, double-door, secure-entry systems. This will help control access to our schools and keep out those who don’t belong.
All of us want our kids to have the best possible options upon graduating from high school. Upgrading vocational programs means students will graduate and be better prepared for the workforce. All vocational programs will be upgraded to industry standards if the bond passes.
The bond addresses large repair projects across the district. As schools age, the repairs become more and more extensive. Schools will get new roofs, flooring, electrical, plumbing and heating based on need. Building two new elementary schools is critical for several reasons. Both Mint Valley and Northlake Elementary are worn out and not worth repairs, have significant safety issues and are too small. Building new, larger schools, will prepare the district for future population growth west of town, reduce the need for portable classrooms and eliminate the need for expensive repairs to these old schools. Both schools will be built with the latest in school safety design.
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A portion of the school bond will go to upgrading the Memorial Stadium complex. The field will be changed to turf for year around use and a new track will be installed. This will allow for more use by school teams and the community. The stadium complex, which is in need of significant concrete, electrical, plumbing and other repairs will be upgraded to last far into the future.
Building support for the bond has been easier than we expected. State Reps. Jim Walsh and Brian Blake endorsed the bond, so did State Sen. Takko. The teachers union (Longview Education Association), the Longview Classified Public Education Association (LCPEA), the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Counties Labor Council and Longview-Kelso Building and Construction Trades Council did too. The Cowlitz Economic Development Council and Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce both endorsed the bond measure as well. Support for the bond is broad and bipartisan.
The biggest objection to the bond has been the cost — $119 million is a lot of money. When endorsing the bond measure State Rep. Walsh said, “I endorse the Longview School District’s 2019 bond proposal, which will appear on general election ballots mailed out later this month. While I understand and respect the questions that some local people have raised about costs, I’ve concluded — after a careful review of the District’s proposal — that this school bond reflects local values and priorities. It will improve the learning experiences that students have at the various K-12 campuses around Longview. When it comes to managing our schools, the kids should always come first.” We think Representative Walsh is right.
We hope you join us and vote Yes for the Longview Schools capital bond.