Editorial: Let’s invest in the future: Vote yes for Props. 1 and 2

It’s time to say yes to our schools.

Two bond measures — Props. 1 and 2 — are before voters. We urge Islanders to approve them both.

The first would enable us to invest in a critical element of our shared civic life — our children’s public learning environment. The $47.7 million bond measure would substantially rebuild our tired and decrepit high school, giving students and teachers a decent, well-lit, technologically appropriate classroom building — the place where our high school students’ education largely unfolds day after day.

The current classroom building is cramped, inefficient and visibly worn. Some argue that its condition is the result of years of deferred maintenance. Surely, that hasn’t helped. But making students and teachers suffer because of the actions of former boards and administrators is absurd.

What’s more, even if it weren’t in a state of disrepair, it simply doesn’t work — with its external doors that let cold air in every time the bell rings, its inadequate space and its awkward configuration. Once a new building is erected, it will be incumbent on us — as citizens and watchdogs — to make sure future school boards and administrations invest in its care and upkeep.

Prop. 1 is not padded with extras. This is not the Taj Mahal some have complained of in the past. Rather, it will result in an efficient, state-of-the-art building, configured in a way that the district’s consultants believe will stand the test of time.

A year ago, voters rejected the district’s $75. 5 million proposal. The school board and district administrators listened and came back with a measure that is considerably more modest, focused and appropriate. It’s time to say yes.

Prop. 2, a $3.5 million measure contingent on the first proposition passing, should also be approved, as it, too, would rebuild a critical infrastructure — our high school’s track and field.

Currently, our track is in such sorry shape that other high schools won’t come here for meets. It’s in such sorry shape that our hurdlers and high-jumpers aren’t able to practice for their events — they learn their sport at meets at other schools. Track is a fantastic, equal-opportunity sport, the kind this Island should embrace. Without a new, all-weather surface, we stand to lose our struggling track team altogether.

The measure would also cover the costs of a synthetic turf field at the high school — the one feature in the two proposals that we question. Studies about the safety of such fields — especially those that contain lead — are not conclusive.

But the inclusion of an artificial turf field is not, we believe, reason to defeat the measure. First, it makes sense in rainy Western Washington, where our natural grass fields are muddy much of the time. Second, when it comes time to determine the details, the district could choose a lead-free, fully recyclable field — the kind that seems to trigger the fewest concerns among health professionals and environmentalists.

Both measures will, of course, raise our taxes. And for some, this will be a hardship. But paying taxes is the price of membership in this club called democracy. And our schools — civic institutions that say so much about our values and beliefs — are at the heart of what matters most. These two propositions are thoughtful, measured investments in our future. Let’s support them both.

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