In Our Opinion: A pool would be nice, but safe schools are vital

Teachers, parents and other supporters of the South Whidbey schools are concerned that a missing advocacy statement in the voter pamphlet, the concurrent request for a pool bond on the November ballot and the state of the economy may be bad news for the $80 million bond measure for school facility improvements on the ballot.

The truth is, another failure of the measure would be very bad news indeed for students and the community alike.

While the bond measure for a public swimming facility is an important proposal that voters should support — after all, people who live on an island ought to know how to swim — passage of the school bond measure is crucial.

The South Whidbey schools are in a state of disrepair that is simply unacceptable and embarrassing, especially for an affluent community that prides itself on being progressive, compassionate and generous.

In American, students shouldn’t have to spent their days in classrooms with prevalent water damage, a hole in a ceiling or dim lighting. They shouldn’t have to trudge through corridors stained with bird poop or a courtyard that’s in an unsafe state of disrepair.

A bond for the district was last approved in the 1990s. A proposition that was essentially the same as the new one was on an April special election ballot, but fell short of the supermajority in receiving 58% voter approval.

The proposed rate of 70 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value would mean an extra $29.08 a month for the owner of a home valued at $500,000.

It’s understandable that people with a fixed or modest income may hesitate to raise taxes. But it’s just too important to wait any longer and construction isn’t going to get cheaper.

Recent arguments about the amount of interest associated with the bond are a red herring. That’s how bonds work. Like a mortgage, agencies have to pay interest to borrow money. Bonds can be refinanced when rates decrease.

The pro-bond group missed the deadline for submitting a statement in support of the measure for the voters’ pamphlet. Many people feel that the campaign for the bond has been a bit lackluster, though that may be changing with some last-minute efforts. In the end, these issues shouldn’t affect voters’ decision when it comes to the ballot. Plenty of information is available for anyone who looks for it, especially in The Record.

The Whidbey Parks and Recreation District’s $27 million bond measure to build an aquatic facility will also be on the general election ballot. It would fund a long-anticipated public pool and a wellness center on the South End. It will be located at the South Whidbey Community Park entrance on Maxwelton Road, close to schools and a transit line.

The pool will be valuable to young and old alike, from kids learning to swim to older people seeking joint-friendly workouts. The measure also requires a supermajority to pass.

In the end, the best outcome will be a victory for both community-improving measures.