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Saturday, January 23, 2010
Letter from a Museum Supporter and concerned Shoreline School District Voter
Letter from a Museum Supporter and concerned Shoreline School District Voter Virginia Paulsen, PhD
She's analyzed the issue from a taxpayers standpoint.
My absentee mail -in ballot for the Feb 9th election arrived earlier this week. I read each measure very carefully. The wording for the school bond gives considerable discretion to the Shoreline School Board - current and future - about what this bond measure intends to accomplish with our tax dollars. And what it does not.
1. It is not clear whether the Shoreline School Board intends to modernize or to replace the high schools. There is a substantial difference between modernization and replacement.
The former means I assume - (just as you may be tempted to assume) - that it means repair and renovation of the buildings that comprise each of the two Shoreline High Schools, Shorewood and Shorecrest. The actual intent or aim of modernization is not clear. It could mean anything from gutting each and all of the buildings, to such repairs and upgrades that are in need of that such as plumbing, electrical work, earthquake retrofit, etc.
What is meant by replacement is also not clear. Replace both high schools? Replace one or two of the buildings on each school site? Replace any and all school buildings on each site? What architectural designs does the Shoreline School Board have in mind if and when they - and they alone - if they do decide on replacement?
Do any or all of these buildings need replacement, or is this a make work project that will benefits architects, engineers, contractors, etc.? Will these new buildings enhance or in any way contribute to the learning capabilities of the high school students attending each of these two schools? (As a Sociologist I can tell you that the research on academic performance shows this has little to do with school buildings.)
The fact is that the school board will have total discretion - perhaps we might want to call it indiscretion - to make choices about repair, renovation, replacement after the vote but not before it. That is we do not know what we will be getting or what we are voting for.
2. This bond also authorizes the School Board to "acquire land such as is necessary for such modernization or replacement? What land does the Shoreline School Board have in mind? Why is such land necessary? What will such acquisition have on students' academic capabilities and enhancement?
Coupled with the fact that the Shoreline Historical Museum has been targeted by the Shoreline School Board for possible removal from its present historical site, suggests that the Board may have committed itself to a plan that is not specified in this bond measure. Keep in mind, please, that the Shoreline Historical Museum building was a school building, The Ronald School, built to last forever in 1912, and is now, with good maintenance, a fully functioning building, eminently suited to its current functions as a museum. It is situated on its orginal site. Removal of the Shoreline Historical Museum to a different sitre may not only be very expensive but damaging to the structural integrity of this building.
Do we voters want to give the Shoreline School Board this much power to make decisions with our money, decisoins that we may not have any post-facto say in the matter?
3. The final statement in this bond measure deserves very close scrutiny, since it calls for the possibility of the school board being able to "levy annual excess property taxes to pay fhe bonds". Such possiblility is in addition to the two levy mesures that are on the Feb 9th ballot., (Prop No 1) replacing the expiring levy for educational programs, and Prop 3 ( a capital levy for technology improvements and support.)
Prop 1 calls for an annual level of $2.48/1000 assessed value and $0.35/1000 assessed value for Prop. 3. The total estimated levied costs of the three measures, that includes the bond (Prop 2) is $5.29/1000 assessed value. Please take the time to (A) calculate what this means for your budget, given the current dismal economic climate, and (B) compare with 2009 school levy amount.
How much can the citizens of Shoreline afford at this time when houses are on the market daily (at least in the Ridgecrest area) and folks are silll losing jobs and their homes?
4. Finally, keep in mind that there is another levy for the King County Rural Library Project, which calls for $0.50/$1000 assessed property values in order to provide continuing funding for normal operations.
With the loss of income, jobs and the ability to pay for basic necessities folks are cramming into the libraries, some to keep warm and read at the same time but many others to use the computers and free printing services provided as a means to find jobs and to apply for these. The Library levy is a basic and in my opinion necessary service - or rather set of services - that people daily - every hour the library is open - and is not very expensive.
So, the bottom line, is to read the ballot measures carefully, think even more carefully about the statements in each measure, and what these aim to accomplish, without our necessarily knowing what the Shoreline School Board actually has in mind with the three school measures, especially the Bond proposition. To my mind this is not a bond which I want to vote for in its wording or intent.
• Douglass Squirrel sighted in Briarcrest by Chris Southwick Feb 2012
• Cottontail Rabbit sighted in Briarcrest Neighborhood Nov 1st. Did not look like a domestic "bunny!"
• Coyote spotted in Paramount Park Meadow, just sittin'. 3/11
• Varied Thrush sighted in Paramount Park Neighborhood 2 & 3/11
• Townsends Warbler photographed in Highland Terrace Neighborhood 1/11
• Blackheaded Grossbeak sighted near Paramount Park last Fall
• Great Blue Heron sighted at Hidden Lake in Boeing Creek basin
• Barred Owl sighted in Thornton Creek Park #1 near Jackson Park, 8/10
• White crowned sparrow identified in Highland Terrace/Aurora Square neighborhood
• Blackheaded Grossbeak sighting in Hillwood neighborhood
• Two Raptors sighted in Shoreline. Osprey and Merlin have been documented at Ronald Bog and Echo Lake respectively this summer (2010)
• Pacific Chorus Frog heard in Shoreline's Hillwood Neighborhood
• Three types of warblers identified in Briarcrest neighborhood in May and June
• Red Breasted Sapsucker Banded in Briarcrest Neighborhood of Shoreline
• 4/16 - Mating pair of Pileated Woodpecker seen yesterday in Paramount Park. They were utilizing some "snags" (dead trees) which were placed in the wetland restoration area with a KC Wildlife Habitat Grant in 2002. The Pileated Woodpecker is considered a "Priority Species" by WDFW. The pairs mate for life and make their nests in cavities they excavate in dead trees with their sharp beaks. They eat insects and grubs they find in the dead wood.
• Great Blue Heron seen today at Thornton Creek Par #6 eating two fish in five minutes. It's interesting to note that it took many years to get the City of Seattle to realize that there are fish living in Thornton Creek, only 2-3 blocks from Northgate. In the design of the Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel at Northgate, fish passage was a non-negotiable issue. The Great Blue Heron is considered a Priority Species by WA State.
• River Otter Spotted at Kruckeberg Botanic Garden! The Garden does not have a river running through it, so we were startled to see what appeared to be a river otter (Lutra canadensis) passing through recently. River otters live in rivers, streams, and coastlines. With water repellant fur and webbed feet, these playful members of the weasel family are designed for swimming and catching fish, their main food. However, they often wander far from water in search of a mate or new living area, surprising the unsuspecting staff of botanic gardens. The Kruckeberg Garden is near the headwaters of Storm Creek.
• Wood Ducks seem to be happily proliferating at Thornton Creek Park Six near Northgate. With the help of stewards, beavers and other species, habitat is improving at this little "wild" urban paradise. Despite a jungle of invasives there is a wetland habitat (improved by beavers) that suits the Wood Ducks. Today, 13 were sighted in the branches of a fallen cottonwood. 13 Wood Ducks Today!
• Beaver families have been moving in and building habitat around our urban watersheds, especially into Thornton Creek. Here is a photo a "creative engineer" naturally utilizing the creek corridor at Thornton Creek Park #6, which is a wetland waiting for better "engineering".
• At least 40 bird species have been sighted at Paramount Park over the last 20 years and more. The Barred Owl is one visitor who is watching over us.
• 12 birds at Greenlake today including Western Grebe, Bufflehead, Great Blue Heron and Hooded and Red-breasted Merganser
Janet proudly served on Shoreline City Council, from 2005-2009 and is an outspoken, current environmental and preservation activist residing in Shoreline, WA. Over the past 20 years, she and many other partners have succeeded in many remarkable accomplishments for the environment and community. On the City Council, she helped spearhead many environmental achievements for Shoreline, giving Shoreline a "green city" profile. She is a founding member of Paramount Park Neighborhood Group, Thornton Creek Legal Defense Fund (which advocated for and succeeded in "daylighting" Thornton Creek at Northgate), South Woods Preservation Group, Lake Ballinger Forum, Sno-King Economic Gardening group and other efforts. She serves on the Advisory Board of Friends of Fircrest, and is a member of Shoreline Chamber of Commerce and Shoreline Solar Project.
Janet holds an Art degree from Moore College of Art, Phila, and runs an arts business for 30 yrs. She also is sales rep for Appel Farms dairy at Seattle Farmers Markets.
Janet and her wonderful, patient husband, Alan Worthington of 32 yrs have two grown sons, Travis and Spencer.