Washougal voters have a decision to make, and it may not necessarily be an easy one.
As part of the Feb. 10 special election, the Washougal School District is seeking 60 percent super majority approval of a $57.68 million capital projects bond. The bond is projected to increase taxpayer rates by 48 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. For the owner of a $300,000 home, taxes would go up by approximately $144 per year.
This is certainly no small increase, but the benefits this money will provide directly to Washougal School District students, and indirectly to the community now and into the future, make it worth an enthusiastic vote of support.
This proposed bond would fund a range of projects that impact and improve the learning environment and safety of the kindergarten through 12th-grade students of the Washougal School District.
The more than 30-year-old Jemtegaard Middle School, with its current antiquated and inefficient “open air pod-style” design, will be replaced with a new combined elementary school and middle school to serve 1,000 students. Jemtegaard was originally built in 1981 to accommodate 322 students. Today, it is bursting at the seams with 494, forcing the use of portable classrooms.
The bond would also support the construction of a new facility to replace the decrepit building currently used by Excelsior High School students. A new facility would provide them with a better learning environment, giving this group of students who have sought out a non-traditional approach to academics a place to call their own.
A new transportation facility would also be built, and much needed safety improvements would be implemented at all seven of the district’s schools.
It’s relatively easy to see how these bond projects will enhance the academic experiences of current and future students, but there is much more to it than that.
An excellent public school system is a social and economic asset to a community. It attracts new employers who want to provide a high quality of life to their employees. It has the potential to increase property values. It educates students who graduate from high school and grow up to become productive and engaged citizens. Those kinds of school systems are built over time, and it takes voter and community support to help make it happen.
Vote ‘yes’ on the Washougal School District’s capital projects bond.
Editor’s note: A member of Post-Record Managing Editor Heather Acheson’s extended family is an elected member of the Washougal School Board.