Yelm Community Schools spans four cities and lies within two counties. Unlike some neighboring school districts, our property-poor area has seen school bonds defeated at the ballot box time and again. It’s been 16 years since voters approved a bond.
Last year, we lost by 64 votes. This year, voters are asked to approve a $98.9 million bond. The price tag is a glaring reminder that construction costs have risen by $22 million since 2018.
If passed, the bond would fund replacement of Yelm Middle School and Southworth Elementary. These 45-plus-year-old schools were built long before school safety concerns and technology were everyday realities. Other Yelm schools will not be left out. Instead, each will receive upgraded security measures, specific to each facility.
Thanks to recent legislative changes, taxpayers will experience a decrease in their school tax. No joke! That’s because the state is now carrying more of the burden. While the McCleary decision funneled more money towards education, it didn’t include money for brick-and-mortar. Passing bonds is the primary way to fund school construction. The irony is that it takes a supermajority of 60 percent of yes voters to approve, a herculean community effort.
Yelm kids deserve what Olympia voters do for their school children. They support their future investment and so should we. During this campaign, I’ve witnessed local businesses, the mayor and city council and our community members publicly support this effort. It’s wonderful! Let’s do it right this time. Mark “approved” on your Feb. 12 ballot.
(Manwiller is the co-chair of the Citizens for Support of Yelm Schools)