By SHELLY ACKERMAN
School funding can be hard to understand. Most of what I see or hear stated regarding the school bond requested here on South Whidbey is based on inaccurate information or looks at or compares the wrong data. Bonds are a requirement now and then by all school districts in our state. They pay for things that are big ticket items that can not be covered by the annual general funding, nor by levies. It has been explained again and again, and yet people still return to the same misinformed arguments. Perhaps an analogy would help.
When you buy a home, unless you pay cash for it, the price agreed upon in the contract with the seller is not the price you end up paying. We are all aware, I hope, of how loans work. You pay more for an item when you don’t pay in full up front. If you need a new roof on your house, and can’t pay for it in full, you take out a line of credit or refinance. Which means you end up paying more for that roof in the end than you paid the contractor to install. But if you don’t fix your roof or do the repairs soon, it will cost you more down the road in damage repair as well as inflation and rising labor costs. Roofs only last so long.
If we don’t support the upkeep and repair of our school facilities, how long will it be before nobody wants to work there or send their kids there? When will they become too unsafe? If we don’t support our schools, what message does this send to the next generation? “You are too expensive to educate in a decent, well kept building.” What message does it send to district staff? “You can work in drafty, leaky classrooms, park in deteriorating parking lots and serve students with outdated, limited facilities.”
If we don’t support the bond, the district will be forced to pay a penalty to the state for not upgrading the HVAC system to a more green, clean and efficient one. Another unfunded mandate from our legislators.
As additional homes are built in our area and get added to the tax roll, it spreads out the burden of any local tax. Most if not all school districts in our state must pass levies every few years to balance the budget. Bonds can only pay for certain things and not staff/salaries. Levies are smaller but have a max or ceiling, so can’t pay for large ticket items. It is prudent to put many things into one bond vs. issue bonds frequently. It has been over 30 years since our last school bond on South Whidbey.
There is a plethora of information shared on the district website. And I found this web page had simple and helpful explanations: www.esd112.org/bond-levy.
Remember, these students will be our future doctor, pilot, legislator, financial advisor and neighbor. I for one want them to begin their education journey in quality facilities, to enjoy school and learning and feel proud of where they came from.
I’ve been involved with the South Whidbey School District for over 22 years, as an active parent and community supporter through PTA and the Schools Foundation. The quality of people in our district, whether teacher, admin or other staff, is remarkable. The dedication and heart felt passion for this work is apparent. I support them and the students, and our community as a whole, by voting yes on the school bond and ask that you join me.
Shelly Ackerman is a Langley resident.