Olympia needs to redraw school boundaries

October 28th, 2011 by Ken

The Olympia School District is looking at putting a $98 million dollar bond issue before the voters next year, for the purpose of building new school facilities and making improvements to existing buildings.

It’s too much money, at the wrong time for something that isn’t desperately needed. But, you won’t find anyone to say a bad word about the district’s proposal – – except me.

Bear in mind, that I don’t live in the Olympia School District, but I do have grandchildren that do, and I don’t think the money is needed.

From what I understand, the Olympia School District will use the money to build a new middle school, build a new facility to house the regional learning academy and renovate a number of elementary schools. It would also fund a number of maintenance projects around the district.

Does any of that seem like an emergency to you?

These are tough economic times. Almost every taxpayer in the district is having a difficult time making ends meet – and yet – the school district is asking for nearly $100 million dollars to do some construction projects and minor maintenance work.

Where are the district’s priorities? This is not a time to ask for more money for projects that can be delayed.

For the past five years, the Olympia School District has had almost flat growth – – in other words – – no growth at all. It doesn’t have an overcrowding problem – – many of the district’s elementary classrooms sit – unused and empty.

It has an administrative problem.

While some sections of the district are experiencing over crowding – others parts are losing students.

Olympia desperately needs to redraw its school district boundary lines. It needs to shift kids from crowded schools to nearly empty schools.

But it won’t do it. Administrators don’t want to do it. They don’t want to take the heat by moving school lines and upsetting parents and children. Instead, they ask the voters for more money to build an additional middle school and for renovating elementary schools with many empty classrooms.

Voters in the Olympia School District have always been supportive of their schools. But, it’s time to force the district to redraw school boundary lines instead of asking for more money.

That’s what administrators get paid to do – – make the tough choices. Asking voters for more money is the easy way out.

(This commentary first aired on KGY Radio AM1240 on October 19.)

Posted in Government, Local Politics, The Real News

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