Read pro and con statements before deciding Pasco school bond

MATT BEATON FRANKLIN COUNTY AUDITORJanuary 30, 2013 

Your vote is your voice. We at the Franklin County Elections are frequently asked, "Where can I get more information on the candidates or issues?"

While we offer an online voters guide on our website www.co.franklin.wa.us/auditor, paper copies are not printed for special elections. We appreciate partnering with the Tri-City Herald to bring you the "pro" and "con" statements for the Pasco School District Proposition 1. We present them to you as submitted to us by committees appointed by the Pasco School District, unedited and with no additional commentary.

Pasco School District voters should have received their ballot by now. Let your voice be part of our future: Mark it. Sign it. Send it. Voting for the election ends Feb. 12.

Argument For

We, your neighbors, urge you to Vote YES for Pasco Schools! Remember bonds build schools; levies support learning and operate our facilities. Both are necessary to maintain the high standards expected of Pasco Schools. Your School Board is asking for passage of a $46.8 million bond to construct three large elementary schools. Sixteen of 18 Pasco schools are overenrolled. Some schools are nearly double their capacity with no more room for portables. www.psd1.org provides school capacity, enrollment figures and bond details. This crowding is the worst in PSD history. The bond is estimated to cost $34 per year for a home valued at $100,000. Another $38.1 million in state matching funds will be available only when the bond passes. State funds will assist in relocation of New Horizons High School and capital improvements at Stevens Middle School. Careful and thoughtful planning has gone into presenting this bond to voters. PSD is recognized for its efficient use of taxpayer dollars and is purposefully conservative in budgeting projects. The new schools will be built using an existing Pasco school design, which has saved millions in architectural, engineering and construction costs over nearly 20 years. Once the proposed schools are constructed, sixth graders stay at the elementary level; relieving overcrowding at our middle schools. This will delay the need for a new middle school. All our children and grandchildren deserve our investment in their education; they are our hope for the future. We urge you to Vote YES because we know Pasco cares for kids.

-- Valerie Moffitt

-- Michael A Miller

-- John Sawyer

Argument Against

The Department of Revenue ranked Pasco School District (PSD) residents as paying the fourth highest regular/special property tax levies, and eighth highest sales tax rates in Washington. Nearly two-thirds of your property tax bill supports PSD. Your PSD Bond Taxes will increase 15.1 percent should the 2013 bond pass. Are you aware PSD spends more than our local public safety, ambulance, fire, water, library and all other tax supported activities combined?

PSD serves seven students per employee. PSD annually budgets $12,005 per student, of which only 48.71 percent is attributable to "regular instruction." PSD will not reduce operating expenditures to offset any portion of the proposed 2013 bond. The cost of the 2013 Bond Special Election is significantly greater and will receive far less votes than had it been placed on a regularly scheduled ballot. Is this efficient, effective and responsible government? PSD has not committed its $1 million new school impact fee reserve to lower the 2013 Bond amount. Shouldn't this new school fee be used to offset the cost of new schools?

With our area's anticipated economic downturn, it is not prudent to increase the cost of food, services, rents and housing with this additional tax burden. Are you aware of the 2013 bond's negative impact to your family's finances and to local businesses?

Similar to many school districts, PSD should modify schedules, use existing resources and support private/charter/home schooling options. The 2013 bond is highest cost solution of the many good available. Vote to REJECT the 2013 School Bond.

-- Roger E Lenk

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