Vote yes for school bond | Guest Column

by the Orcas Island School Board and OISD Superintendent

Soon you will be voting on a new school bond. The bond corrects safety issues and makes essential repairs or improvements to OISD facilities that were not included in previous bonds. Several meetings/surveys determined the content of this bond. Everything included reflects the collective input and priorities of our community. The board also took into account work by consultants who determined what items were not in immediate need of repair/replacement (i.e. new windows in the elementary), while weighing a bond amount that would be tenable for the voters.

To that end this bond will (1) Replaces the antiquated high school heating system so that students can attend class without parkas. (2) Renovate our beloved, but deteriorating, “Old Gym” by replacing gym flooring, remodeling bathrooms/locker rooms, and replacing bleachers. (3) Provide a new room for our award-winning strings musicians who are in a space so small they don’t have room to draw their bows across their instruments. (4) Use a $1 million donation along with bond funds for a new track and new grass field. (5) Make interior improvements to the Elementary/High Schools, and Waldron School. (6) Improve campus-wide the water system. (7) Improve School Road, eliminating potholes. (8) Make the school more accessible for all students by adding ADA electronic doors.

As you can see, this bond addresses repairs or improvements to OISD facilities. We are not foregoing maintenance on other parts of the campus in order to effect these changes. These are the priorities set forth by the community as expressed in meetings/surveys. And while we are talking about maintenance, despite what you may hear, the school board is aware of its duty to maintaining our district. The new track, for example, will require additional maintenance costs. Experts in the track construction estimate the amortized cost over 30 years will be $7500 a year. Some years will cost more, some less. The district has been gifted a separate endowment by the donor to the track. Maintenance of the track will come from the payout from the endowment.

Our school board has one commitment: to meet the needs of our students and staff. It spends hours weighing countless options, listening to ALL points of view, all in the effort to make our schools outstanding – today and tomorrow. While some of you may think this bond should include windows, or a new admin building – these are individual thoughts. The district must look at what is needed for the whole of our school community. We have all been through a long, divisive election season. It is heartbreaking to think that this bond would bring such division to our community. This is not about a track/field. It is not about a music room, a heating system, or new flooring. It is about providing the best educational environment for our children so that they may have a competitive foothold in the complicated future they all will most certainly face. We hope you will support us in making that happen. For more information, contact Eric Webb at ewebb@orcas.k12.wa.us