October 19, 1998
Educational needs should be considered
I am a 38 year resident in the Riverview School District with seven children ages 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 11, and 8. I have coached approximately 80 girls' and boys' athletic teams, totaling over 1,000 children, including children of individuals both in favor of and against the bond.
My priorities for the past 25 years have included doing whatever I could in the effort to benefit children through participation in quality athletic programs.
We certainly could use more fields to accommodate the growing number of participants and there are several possibilities to reach that goal.
Some of the participation figures being quoted are exaggerated, such as the one recently that Cedarcrest High School grew from 335 students to 830 in five years. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction Report shows that five years ago, 541 students were enrolled at Cedarcrest not 335.
Nevertheless, there is no argument that additional fields are needed throughout the community. The current proposal being put to the voters to spend 6.5 million dollars plus interest for many years can either be looked upon as the right answer or the wrong answer, depending on your perspective.
The fact is: the bond to build Cedarcrest High School was drastically missing the dollars needed to build what the voters were promised. A large number of voters were alienated by the process and the results. Trying to regain voters' confidence that the school district is spending their tax dollars wisely will take a positive track record and good communication, neither of which has happened to date.
Many of the "quality districts" share major expense items such as athletic facilities. Has our district considered a joint venture with a neighboring district? When such a large amount of the budget for a small district, such as ours, is earmarked for one area of concern, it leaves less of the budget available for the other areas of concern, many of which may be of equal or more importance than the one currently under consideration. Are computers less important than astro-turf football fields? Are classrooms for students less important than lighted tennis courts? Are non-existent programs such as auto-shop and French less important than covered bleachers? I guess it depends on your perspective.
I certainly won't be totally disappointed if the bond for the new athletic facilities passes because I'm a big supporter of sports and will be attending sporting events for many years to come, but I don't think this bond is the right thing for our district to do at this time. We need to consider the other important needs of the district both now and in the immediate future.
Perhaps somebody can tell me how trying to be fiscally responsible, means people like me are trying to punish children. Please, don't exaggerate and label people because they have a different perspective of what is best to provide for the needs of our children. I wonder what kind of lessons we are teaching our children if we overindulge and overspend our budget just to keep up with the "Mercer Island" sports image. When the rest of our educational facilities and programs match Newport and Skyline and Issaquah, maybe then would be the right time to ante up for a mega-sports facility such as the one being proposed, but until then, I vote to ask for a more moderate proposal for additional fields combined with an honest admission that the facilities and programs throughout the district, and especially at Cedarcrest, need a major investment. When all the 'yes' voters are drooling at the opposition's home field, they should take a closer look around at the rest of the educational facilities and programs offered at those schools and compare. Maybe they might see things from a different perspective.
Pat Grady, Carnation