I am writing about the Jan. 20 article, “School bond won’t pay for all high school upgrades.”
The Enumclaw School Board/District stated that the combined bond and state match was approximately $65 million and $18.1 million respectively, for a total of $83 million per levy material and press release http://www.courierherald.com/news/281536481.html in the fall of 2014, prior to the spring 2015 vote. Now we are told the sources of funds were calculated wrong and that there was a change in the projected state matching funds. Additionally, we are also told that costs are 30 percent over budget.
So the district plans to “save” $20 million to $22 million by eliminating the new gymnasium and performing arts center. Most of us would lose our credibility and maybe our jobs if we were off by such large dollar amounts.
The bond was approved only by a handful of votes and I will make the educated guess that if not for the improvements promised at the main campus in Enumclaw, that the levy vote would have failed. What is concerning to me is that the school board is on the public record saying that Enumclaw taxpayer approval for schools in Black Diamond would be a challenge. Yet, they submitted a Black Diamond Elementary capital budget that reflected a building with more than 150 expanded seats to accommodate Black Diamond growth. They stated during past public hearings in Black Diamond that their strategy to get Enumclaw taxpayers to agree to new bonds for the BD schools was to promise the Enumclaw taxpayers something they would want, in this case an expansion to secure the campus, new gymnasium and new performing arts center and bundle them together with the Black Diamond request.
Now, the property tax will be implemented, but no gym and no performing arts center is in store for Enumclaw? I suspected that strategy was coming, but even I am taken aback about the audacity that the school board will actually take those projects away from Enumclaw after the vote.
Yet, despite the financial shortfall, the expansion of the Black Diamond Elementary School from the current 300 students to 450 students is still in the plan. I wholeheartedly support the replacement of Black Diamond Elementary for 300 students, but question why we are paying for additional space for students from the anticipated new homes where the developer that has not yet built one house. The taxpayers who are here now should be getting the benefit of the gym and arts center they voted for. Or, perhaps with such drastic changes in the project, they shouldn’t have to pay this bond at all or it should go to a re-vote due to a material change.
I close with continued support of a bond for the replacement of the existing Black Diamond Elementary School, but I do not support an expansion and I will not support future bonds for uncontrolled growth in Black Diamond that is the responsibility of the city of Black Diamond, her citizens and the master developer. As a community we need the ESD and School Board to be honest and transparent about their actions and to be held accountable to the taxpayers.