April 5, 2012
Renton bond invests in students’ future
The Renton School District passed both levies in the Feb. 12 election. However, the bond, which requires a 60 percent yes vote, received only 58.08 percent, falling short of approval by 335 votes out of 17,000.
Because of that narrow margin and the significant value that passing the school bond will have on students in the district, the Renton School Board decided unanimously to seek approval of the bond again, and I agree.
The bond accomplishes two essential components for the district. First, it provides the funding for a new middle school in the district. Why is this important? The average middle school in Washington has 609 students per school. Renton’s three middle schools rank in the state as follows, McKnight: third (1,150 kids, almost double), Nelsen: ninth (1,050) and Dimmitt: 24th (890).
If the bond is passed, it means a fourth middle school, which could open in four years, allowing the school district the ability to lower the average number of children per school down to 891 in 2016 (this number includes adjusting for anticipated growth). As you can see, a fourth middle school really just helps the district hold the line.
In addition, the bond provides capital for improvements, upgrades and modernizations to other schools and the renovation of the Lindbergh pool. These improvements will save the district money by lowering operating costs of these facilities.
The Renton School Board understands the concerns of taxpayers and balances those concerns with the essential needs of the district. This will help balance the concerns about school size for now. Your yes vote goes a long way for the children of the Renton School District.
Newcastle residents in the Renton district would see an increase of $5.83 per month on average if the bond is approved (defined as a home in Newcastle with average assessed value of $388,000). Less than $6 per month for all of that seems like a great investment to me.
Vote yes for the Renton school building improvements bond on April 17!
John Galluzzo, chairman
Citizens for Renton Schools
Bond provides vital funds for schools
Our Renton School District, where I previously served as an elected school board director for eight years, is known for ever-increasing student achievement, fiscal responsibility and holding true to promises made to parents, community members and taxpayers.
Local residents and voters appreciate the district’s leadership, and the dedication by teachers and support staff, to ensure that the district is focused on quality teaching and successful learning for all kids. Local voters have consistently shown their support by voting yes for school funding measures to ensure teachers have the necessary classroom tools and technology to prepare our community’s children for a competitive and productive future.
For the past 20 years, voters have also provided funding to allow the rebuilding of every elementary school and upgrades or remodeling of middle and high schools. Now, on the April 17 ballot, there’s an opportunity for voters to provide something vital to the continued success of the district.
The Building for a Lifetime of Learning School Construction Bond measure will allow the district to continue to protect the taxpayer investments in those schools by providing needed maintenance and repair projects at schools across the district — like replacing roofs, windows and floors; renovating/repairing aging heating, electrical and mechanical systems; and upgrading school security and safety features.
The largest portion of the bond measure will build an additional, much-needed middle school to provide current elementary school students with a place to learn that is free from the overcrowded conditions that currently exist. Renton’s three middle schools are among the largest in the state, and the incoming students from the district’s 14 elementary schools means that the district must act now to be ready to accommodate those children. The proposal shows responsible planning on the district’s part; that’s also something voters appreciate.
I ask you to vote yes for Renton Schools on the April 17 ballot. Your vote will help the district continue to provide an excellent education for our children now and well into the future.
Support needed for ISD
By now, registered voters should have received their ballots for the Issaquah School District bond election. We are being asked to decide one thing: whether to help bridge the huge gap left by inadequate state funding of education.
Although the $219 million bond package might seem big, the truth is our taxes will actually go down — the owner of a $500,000 home will pay about $215 less per year than we currently pay on the bond package that runs out this year.
You might be surprised to learn that Washington does not fund regular maintenance of public schools — local voters must approve school bonds to make sure our kids have safe buildings in which to learn and grow. If we don’t approve this package, the district will be forced to divert funds from areas like teacher salaries and books in order to make even basic repairs to school buildings.
For example, if a school boiler fails, the replacement is $500,000, which is equivalent to six teaching positions. In some elementary schools, class sizes are up to 28 students. Imagine how much more difficult it would be for our kids to learn and our teachers to teach if there were 30 or more students in each classroom!
Within the $219 million package are almost $4 million for Maywood Middle School and $44.58 million for Liberty High School, which will enable our district to complete the construction that has already begun and turn our high school into a state-of-the-art facility like Issaquah and Skyline high schools. Our south-end Newcastle and Renton schools are first on the construction schedule, which means the work should be complete in about three years, in plenty of time for most of our kids to actually enjoy the new buildings.
Ballots must be postmarked by April 17, and we need 60 percent plus one of those votes to be in favor of funding a better education for our kids. Learn more at www.visvote.org.
Community college support benefits Newcastle
I am a member of the Renton Technical Foundation Board. We raise scholarship monies for students who otherwise would not be able to complete their job training programs. Until recently, I did not realize the important connection between the Renton Technical College and the economic development potential of Newcastle.
Renton Technical College offers 36 associates degrees, 11 associate transfer degrees and 61 professional certificates. RTC is an open enrollment school, has one of the highest student completion rates in Washington and tuition is about 1/3 the cost of a four-year public university. 74.3 percent of RTC students attend for workforce training purposes. Most importantly, RTC graduates have a 76 percent job placement rate!
During this economic downturn, many people have turned to RTC for workforce training or re-training in new careers. While, conversely, state government has reduced funding to community colleges for the fourth straight year, requiring increases to tuition rates, making college more difficult for students. Many RTC students are living in poverty and need training in job skills to achieve living wage jobs. RTC Foundation scholarships enable many students to complete their certificate or degree programs.
I attended a recent seminar about strategies to attract and retain economic development in cities. The presenters had surveyed businesses and scored which factors were most important in choosing cities for new business placement. One of the top four factors was the availability of appropriately trained labor force and the importance of nearby community colleges in providing that labor force.
Newcastle is in the RTC service area. Our economic development potential is enhanced by the availability of the RTC trained graduates; workers for the new businesses in Newcastle: restaurants, dental, medical, ophthalmology and accounting offices, auto repair shops, banks, daycare centers, computer consults, electricians, appliance repair, legal assistants, office assistants, etc.
That is the connection. By helping students at RTC we are advancing our own community. The Newcastle economic development team should champion the quality workforce provided by RTC as one reason businesses should locate in Newcastle.
Support the RTC Foundation in providing scholarships by contacting Susanna Williams at 235-2356 or donate online at www.rtc.edu/foundation.
Renton Technical Foundation Board member