By Lt. General Bill Harrison (retired) and Debbie LeBeau
On February 9, residents in the Clover Park School District have an important opportunity to build safe, better schools without increasing their tax rate by voting YES for the school bond proposition. This crucial bond will raise $92 million to:
- Rebuild Hudtloff Middle School ($38 million)
- Build a consolidated Oakwood and Southgate Elementary school ($19 million)
- Build a new Harrison Preparatory Academy in partnership with Clover Park Technical College ($35 million)
We can do all of this without raising our tax rate. Clover Park School District has one of the lowest local tax rates in all of Pierce County. Passage of this bond measure will NOT raise our tax rate, but will continue it as one of the lowest of local school districts.
Passing this measure also makes the district eligible for $24 million in matching funds from the state. This is a great opportunity to leverage our funds and one we should not let slip away.
You may ask why these schools need to be rebuilt and we’d like to share this information with you.
Hudtloff Middle School is 52 years old and does not meet current safety, electrical and building code standards. It is expensive to maintain, and has poor energy efficiency and a failing heating system. In addition, there is widespread asbestos in pipes and floor tiles.
Southgate Elementary is 53 years old, and has foundation cracks and outdated heating and cooling systems. The school is currently located next to busy commuter railroad tracks, a safety and noise issue for small children.
Oakwood Elementary is 45 years old and is in the flight path of McChord Air Force Base. It cannot be reconstructed at its present site.
Combining Southgate and Oakwood schools at a new location will save about $300,000 a year in operating costs – $7.5 million over the life of the project. That money will go back into classrooms.
The highly successful Harrison Preparatory Academy has been temporarily housed in the former Lake City Elementary School. Partnering with Clover Park Technical College means sharing property, facilities, resources and technical expertise that will benefit these 6th – 12th graders. It also means expanding and enhancing the competitive International Baccalaureate program (IB). This IB program will address the needs of high achieving students and attract new students to the district.
These schools were built at a time when the life expectancy of the buildings was 30 years. Recommendations for new construction were developed by a committee of experts and citizens. The School Board unanimously approved this proposition and the Lakewood City Council unanimously supports the bond extension too, as do countless businesses, elected officials and individuals throughout the community.
A successful bond proposition will allow the district to continue to provide students with up-to-date facilities in which to learn.
This bond measure helps prepare our children for success, but it also benefits the entire community. Creating new schools embedded with modern technology and rigorous academics helps drive economic development by making our community more attractive to new businesses and brings new residents to our city and our school district.
Won’t you join us in supporting our children and our community with a resounding YES vote on the Clover Park School District Bond on February 9th?
For a better tomorrow, vote YES on the Clover Park School District Bond measure today!
Lt. General William H. Harrison is Mayor Emeritus of Lakewood and Debbie LeBeau is superintendent of Clover Park School District.