Letter: Lisa Strauch-Eggers
I am writing to ask you to join me in voting YES on April’s school bond. I confess that I was a skeptic at first but after examining the evidence I decided that the district’s plan was well-conceived and demanded my support. My vote is based on several reasons: Choose the one(s) that resonate(s) with you but please support this important bond.
1. Schools are the foundation of our community and every generation has a duty to look forward.
Like most (if not all) of you, I moved to Mercer Island because of the quality of our schools and the strength of a community that supports those schools. When I moved to the Island almost 15 years ago, my children enjoyed the privilege of attending a freshly-renovated Lakeridge and then a newly-expanded IMS. Somewhere in the course of my deep involvement with our schools, I began to appreciate that my kids were the beneficiaries of the thousands of people, most of whom I will never know, who were responsible for voting yes on successive bonds and levies.
2. Replacing our schools makes economic sense.
This item has three parts: one is purely selfish, the second has a dose of a educational purpose, and the third is purely financial.
(a) Our schools help drive our property values. People will pay more for a house on Mercer Island than elsewhere so their children can attend our schools. Our administration and teachers are excellent and the cohort effect is huge. We have fallen behind other districts in building and renovating our schools. Prospective homebuyers report being shocked by the age of our facilities and their overcrowding.
(b) The schools slated for replacement are more than 50 years old. When I served on the school board we commissioned a study and I was surprised by the extent of repairs that will be needed in the near term just to maintain our buildings in their current states. And after those repairs we will still have overcrowded buildings that have reached the end of their useful lives. New buildings will be much safer in the event of earthquakes. New buildings will provide better facilities and spaces for the way our students learn.
(c) Interest rates are at historic lows and now would be a great time to lock in rates.
3. Our tax rates will still be reasonable.
Mercer Islanders have enjoyed exceptionally low property tax rates, lower than any local community except Seattle. Following approval of this bond, Mercer Island’s rates will still be lower than Issaquah’s, Northshore’s or Snoqualmie’s, and only slightly higher than Bellevue’s and Lake Washington’s. See the attached chart.
We can all discuss around the margins whether the plan is designed exactly as we might have liked, but it is the result of an exhaustive study by a citizen’s committee and the consideration of a school board and administration possessing the highest integrity. It deserves our support.
Thanks for your consideration!