Gateway: Opinion

Letters to the Editor for the week of April 12

Letters to the editor - up to 250 words - can be submitted by 5 p.m. each Friday at gatewayeditor@gateline.com. They may be edited for style, grammar and punctuation. One letter may be accepted per month for each individual.
Letters to the editor - up to 250 words - can be submitted by 5 p.m. each Friday at gatewayeditor@gateline.com. They may be edited for style, grammar and punctuation. One letter may be accepted per month for each individual. Getty Images

Education vs. prisons

Peninsula School District voters simply must pass the school bond, for safe, uncrowded schools for future generations. The thought of a capital bond failure scares me, how local teachers and students will be negatively impacted. You can read the facts and project list at psd401.net/bond, and vote yes before April 24.

Some voters may mistakenly think if the bond fails, their taxes will not increase, but that is short-term thinking. It really boils down to pay now or pay later. Washington state spends $10,700 per public school student, which is below the national average. Compared to what the state spends on inmates, it's a drop in the bucket. The state spends over $35,000 per year, per inmate. Experts nationwide are concerned there is a "schools to prison pipeline” emerging trend, which will only cost taxpayers more.

It pains me to know Washington state is one of the top states paying more for incarceration than education of our kids. We can and must do better as a school district and as a society, to educate our kids and keep them safe at school

Steve Whittier, Gig Harbor

Process plus accountability equals yes for our schools

As an architect trained in school design and member of the district’s community-based Facilities Planning Committee, I helped study our schools for nine months. We toured each school and reviewed building assessments from qualified engineers. They concluded our schools are severely outdated, and our group agreed. In consultation with planners, construction and finance experts, we prepared a list of priorities and delivered our findings to the board. It was our strongest recommendation that a bond be placed before voters as soon as possible to respond to the widespread safety, security and overcrowding conditions.

These recommendations are what you see on your ballot today. By law, 100 percent of bond funding will go toward the planning, construction and opening of safe, updated classrooms. Bond projects are highly regulated, subject to independent state audits and a citizen audit committee. The last bond was passed 15 years ago, and every project was delivered on time and on budget. The district refinanced in 2011, saving taxpayer dollars, and will pay it off early.

Even with this bond, our local school tax rate will go down. The estimated bond increase of $0.45 per $1,000 assessed value will be offset by a $0.48 reduction in the existing levy. The result? A net decrease of $0.03. Our local school tax rate of $2.29 per $1,000 assessed value will remain the lowest in Pierce County (the next lowest is Fife at $4.09 per $1,000!)

This bond has broad support from community leaders, civic organizations and individuals. It’s a win-win: safe, updated schools and lower local school taxes. Please vote yes!

Jennifer Butler, co-chair, Stand Up for Peninsula Schools

$220-million bond doesn’t fit voters’ budgets

Here we go again, folks, and it’s much worse this time. Oh, is it ever! The Peninsula School District wants voters to pony-up funds approaching a quarter-billion dollars to pay for its latest laundry list of projects that it claims need immediate attention from voter bank accounts.

Superintendent Robert Manahan says the district is letting voters off easy now by asking us to approve a mere $220-million bond on April 24. It’s “just a start,” he says. His publicly stated plan is to get voters to bite on $220 million now and then hit us with another $180 million bond issue soon thereafter – voila, $400 million.

It gets even worse. Gig Harbor Life reported after putting their heads together, members of a group calling itself the district’s Facilities Planning Committee decided that the school district really needs at least $700 million! It’s a multipronged assault: Get voters to bite on $220 million now, ease the $180 million past us in two or three years, and then flesh out the $700-million home run later on.

I don’t live in a trophy home or drive a Mercedes; I live in reality and don’t remotely share the school district’s delusions of grandeur.

Notice the lack of specifics on these district projects. “Upgrades,” “modernization,” and “rebuilding” are tossed at voters with few details. District honchos must think this is Carmel-by-the-Sea or Palm Springs, California. There’s money everywhere. Look, I just found a million bucks in my socks drawer. I’ll send it right along.

Two hundred-twenty million now and another $180 million soon thereafter won’t fit budgets of many district voters, certainly not mine. Nor does a bizarre grand total of $700 million.

Keep your hands on your checkbooks, folks. I support our schools, but I oppose reckless spending. Vote no on this horrid proposal.

Richard Sypher, Gig Harbor

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