As a public school teacher for 36 years, I am uncomfortable not supporting the Bellingham school bond; however, I believe the district's priorities have strayed from student performance. Why spend $160 million on new buildings? A new $17 million administration office won't improve student learning, but it might encourage building administrators to spend even more time away from their buildings. Spending $5 million on artificial grass surface for athletics is an unaffordable luxury while student needs are unmet. While some facilities could use improvements, our buildings are not falling apart despite what the district suggests. Spending should be focused on student outcomes, not buildings.
Because Bellingham supports quality education, voters should demand that school board decisions be based on research that will effectively improve student learning. Ignoring research regarding the benefits of small classes, the school district has increased class sizes as it focuses on buildings. I believe the district's plan is to increase all neighborhood schools to a minimum of 450 students in spite of the community's objections.
Voting no on the $160 million school district bond will inform the district leadership that we will not support spending taxpayer dollars not directly related to improving student learning.