I’ve been thinking a lot about the advantages that passing this bond will have on not only our school community, but also our broader Island community. I’m excited about what the passage of this bond will do for our City:
- From a planning perspective, passage of this bond provides a roadmap of our school facilities for the next 50 years. Regardless of Council, Board or Administrative turnover, our community will know what schools are being built where and when, helping us prioritize and optimize infrastructure and traffic projects. In addition, it provides for a master plan of one of the largest parcels of land on the Island – the North Mercer Campus, and puts one of the last large parcels of land on the Island, the Stevenson’s property, into public hands.
- From a city services perspective, it’s also the best case scenario. This bond will enable Mary Wayte Pool, an important community asset, to remain open and accessible for the next ten years, giving our community adequate time to determine if we want to invest in a new pool complex in the future. It also gives our local gem, Youth Theatre Northwest, adequate time to begin their capital building campaign and explore new, exciting ideas and keeps the Pixie Hill, CHILD School and Country Village services available to us for some additional time and gives them time to strategize and find new homes. Last, this bond gives the City an opportunity to potentially partner with the District to make one of the new South end schools equipped to function as a second emergency shelter for our Island in case of a catastrophic event.
- From an economic perspective, a single bond takes advantage of the favorable financing environment and gives our residents a smooth and predictable tax rate—one that they can count on—and it gives our City Council confidence in the overall tax burden of our residents when considering adjustments. Most importantly, for Mercer Island it allows us to keep young families coming to the Island, which keeps our property values high and our local businesses thriving.
With overlapping boundaries and our obvious physical constraints as an Island, the City of Mercer Island and Mercer Island School District have the unique opportunity to work strategically together to best provide the services required by their shared constituency. Today, the school district and City Council have several joint agreements in place, and we can expect the need for collaboration to increase in the future as our community tackles some big issues on our horizon, like light rail, additional downtown development, aging recreational facilities, and improved emergency preparedness. Any city initiative will be hampered until our community approves and funds a plan to solve the overcrowding issues in our schools.
I’m liking the strategic approach on this one–for both our school district and our city.