• Once again, Highline schools in fight for bond measure

    By: Natasha Chen

    Updated:

    BURIEN, Wash. - UPDATE: We originally reported a quote from an opponent, stating that taxes would increase as property values increase. That was referring to potential future bonds. When referring to only this bond, as property values increase, and as more properties are added to the tax roll, the rate would decrease. The taxes a household pays for this specific bond would then likely stay the same or decrease year to year.

    Two dozen parents, students and supporters in the Highline School District rallied Monday afternoon for a bond measure they say is badly needed.

    The bond has failed with voters twice before.

    To pass, it needs two-thirds support, and last year, it narrowly lost with 55 percent of the vote.

    This time, the bond initiative is for $299 million, compared to the February 2015 bond for $376 million and the November 2014 bond for $385 million, both of which failed.

    The new amount would cost $395 per year for the owner of a $500,000 house.

    Supporters use Highline High School in Burien as an example for why the bond is needed, since the school is more than 90 years old. The last remodel was done in 1989.

    Principal Vicki Fischer showed KIRO 7 around the building, which frequently sees falling ceiling tiles. It still retains its antique boiler room and plumbing system, and some of the parts required to maintain the infrastructure are no longer manufactured.

    Fischer said she’s especially concerned about the safety of the staff and students in the event of an earthquake. The building is also unsafe in the case of an intruder.

    She said there are dozens of entrances and exits and places where someone could hide. In a lockdown, the teachers have to manually lock their doors from the outside only.

    In addition, some science classrooms are not equipped to allow students to do lab experiments. Only one classroom has an eye wash, while there are three chemistry teachers.

    “I’ve had parents who have opted – have said, ‘I will not send my student to your school because you can’t give her the education that she deserves,’” Fischer said.

    Some schools, including Mount View and Cedarhurst elementary schools, added portables, but there are problems with those structures as well.

    When KIRO 7 visited Mount View Elementary in February 2015, children were going to lunch in five different shifts in order to fit in the cafeteria.

    But opponents like Karen Steele said voters cannot afford the tax bill.

    “Seniors are going to be forced out of their homes. And most people today could not afford to buy the house that they live in,” Steele said. 

    Steele worked against the first two bond measures too.

    She said the district allowed the buildings to fall into disrepair and that the plans to build are too costly. She emphasized that this is one of three bond measures planned.

    A Highline Public Schools spokesperson said the capital facilities advisory committee developed a long-range facilities plan to meet the district’s needs for 20 years. She said funding the whole plan in one bond would not be affordable, so the project comes in three phases. They do not know how much future bonds would cost.

    Supporters hope voters take a serious look at the bond measure on their November ballots.

    More information can be found at www.highlineschools.org/bond

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