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Sequim School District

Inspire and Achieve!

listening During our recent Listening Sessions, and through email received following our recent bond measure, this is what we heard from our community:

Too Many Projects

  • Too many projects.  Take one at a time and run a smaller bond for each one.
  • Big bonds exclude local contractors.  Keep the payroll here -- do lots of little bonds 
  • Have a smaller list so we can move ahead.  Smaller bonds are better.
  •  Why can't you put up a bond issue with line-item rates to give voters a choice?  People can vote for what they want -- custom-made bond, clean election. 
  • They want it done a piece at a time, and believe there would be more support in that respect.

Maintenance Issues

  • I would like to see a run down on how the monies received from the levies and bonds that were passed in the last ten years have been used.  It seems that with the repair work that needs to be done that the money is being spent elsewhere.
  • Maintenance money must not have been spent wisely if buildings are in such bad shape
  • Take good care of what you have.  Existing schools need to be maintained better.  Trash is on the ground, people hear complaints about how the buildings are being maintained.
  • The problem is not mismanagement, but inadequate funding
  • How can you maintain buildings so they don't have to be torn down after 15 years?
  • Saw water bubbling up on Fir Street and reported it to the district and then it happened again.  Seniors like to see change.
  • I would like to see a run down on how the monies received from the levies and bonds that were passed in the last ten years have been used.  It seems that with the repair work that needs to be done that the money is being spent elsewhere.
  • Make the grounds look better -- put bark down.  Maybe even volunteers could do it.
  • How is the maintenance money being used and decided for priority?  How much money do we have to work with, and at present what is going on with that money? 
  • Most obvious poor maintenance -- the track!  The longer we wait the more costly the repair.  Whatever facilities we have, we must acknowledge the responsibility to maintain them.  The current track is not fit to run on.  It needs to be resurfaced every 10 years.

Amount Too Much

  • The school board blew it by asking for a 250 million dollar bond
  • $50 mil isn't the true amount -- how much is the interest?  How much is maintenance?  If you can't fix the roof now, how are you going to be able to do it in 5-10 years?
  •  We don't want a monument, only what's necessary.  Design to cost, change orders are expensive
  •  Past experience has been that the school districts do their due diligence by the time they ask for money.
  • A number of people vote No no matter what, will not vote for a tax increase
  •  I would like to understand why you feel that people need to pay more
  •  Several folks have told me that they would have voted for the bond if it had been a lower price
  •  I am firmly of the opinion that for one thing, $54 million dollars is a lot of money and although many people in public entities like to think of millions of dollars like it is Monopoly money, many working families and those on fixed incomes don't have a ton of extra money to spare.
  • This town is too small for a 82 million dollar bond, why can't we fix the old school?

 No New Elementary

  •  I asked our School Board to immediately place a new bond of $25.5 million ($54 million less $28.5 million for new elementary school). I would vote for it.
  • The High School is the one that needs the improvements
  •  I've never been a fan of having an elementary school to the east.  Put a new building in the space occupied by the Community School
  •  I believe that if the district scaled back a proposal that did not include a brand new elementary school they may be able to pass a bond. I don't think this community is willing or able to afford a new school at this time. Maybe in the future.
  • Why don't you run a bond that repairs problems on existing buildings?  Wait to build a new building until the land is acquired.
  •  There are a lot of empty buildings on the east side.  Skeptical of moving kids east of town.  Keep the core campus.  There are security and traffic issues but there is enough room to stay where we are.
  • Use engineers in the community to see what it takes to upgrade security, bathrooms and other issues at Haller.
  •  Tear down the Community School and build a new school on that site -- less disruptive.
  • Turning Helen Haller into a 2-story structure would be less costly.
  •  #1 criteria is rethinking the high school.  Then take on the other projects.
  • There is plenty of room to add on temporary shelters at the elementary schools.

 Special Privileges Given

  • The system in the school district is the same system as at SARC.  People are cozy with those in charge and others aren't heard.  Marginalizing people is not good.
  • There is a double-tiered system.  100 Olympic Peninsula Academy students get special teachers.
  •  There has also been a history of 'special focus' to students tied to the staff through family, special interest, or affluence in the community. Scholarship night is the glaring indicator of this "phenomenon," as I will call it. There are no grades tampered with, nor moral violations, grade altering.........simply put, if you are in with the staff, you have little issue with extra tutoring and scholarship submission. 

District Shaming Voters

  • I shouldn't be called names as the result of asking questions or offering suggestions.
  • Campaign felt like entitlement.  It felt like voters were being shamed into voting yes.
  •  Don't be disrespectful to voters.  Saying seniors could be exempt is insulting.  We don't care how we compare to other districts.
  • There were hostile comments made in the Peninsula Daily News following letters to the editor.
  • Calling it a toxic community isn't good for setting up another bond in November.
  • The focus of the bond shifted from logical to emotional.  No voters were depicted as not caring about kids.  Staff that engaged in shaming and negative responses reflected poorly on the district. 
  • Using kids as campaign props was not good.
  • You currently have multiple people shaming voters for voting no on the bond

District Failing to Educate or Meet Students’ Needs

  • Get rid of Common Core
  • The graduation rate is appalling.  One in four don't graduate.  The community wants to know what the schools are going to do about the graduation rate.
  • Do a polling five years after graduation.  That would be a good indicator of how effective we are.
  • Not every student goes to college.  Our schools don't teach carpentry, electrical, etc.
  • Truancy is the biggest problem.  The police chief admitted that every day they round them up from the usual places.
  • The public has lost faith years ago in the staff's ability to educated the average student.
  • When I initially took the ASVAB in school in 1994, I received an overall score of 84. I did as any student, and compared it with my peer, most of which scored higher. From 94 to 08 the average score has dropped over 50 points. The services can barely find people that meet a 32 on the test. The public has lost faith. Should this not be proof enough, Peninsula College now has staff to 'train up' HS graduates to what they deem a HS level.

Said NO Already!

  •  I don't understand why you feel it necessary to spend funds after it has been turned down three times now.
  • Why try to manipulate the law to pass a bond measure?  The community doesn't want that much of a bond.
  • Put a restriction on how often a bond can be run.
  •  It was the same thing with the same results.  Port Angeles stepped back and reviewed their results.  Our board needs to do the same.
  •  Voted No three times on the exact same bond.  Why no changes?

 Tired of Supporting Slackers

  •  If kids aren't smart enough to look both ways when crossing the street to get to band room -- that's silly.
  • Who pays?  Studied letters to the editor.  Everyone's situation is different.  Renters don't have the same responsibility as homeowners.  When they write a letter, they should have to state if they are registered voters or property owners on the Olympic Peninsula. 
  • Didn't find any information about commercial properties, how they figured in the bond.
  • People simply don't want to pay. Those of us who actually do produce something are tired of having our virtuous act of working used against us. Please stop trying to use my ability against me by using the tyranny of the majority against me to confiscate my wealth. 

Comments Regarding the Next Bond

  •  I asked our School Board to immediately place a new bond of $25.5 million ($54 million less $28.5 million for new elementary school). I would vote for it.
  • The district needs to expand technology at all levels and the next bond should be somewhere between 54 and 154 million to include technology.
  • Run a trimmed down bond in November 2016.
  • Talk about taking out a mortgage to pay for the bond.  Homeowners can understand that.
  • With the uncertain climate of the presidential election and worries about  stock market repercussions, people won't be thinking that they can risk a Yes vote on a bond measure in November.
  •  There's not enough time before a November election for the task force to do their work.  If people don't think the required homework has been done it won't work.
  • This school board may have lost some credibility over the last few bond issues.
  • People believe that we don't need to do anything right now because our legislators will come through with funding and fix everything.  All that is smoke and mirrors.  The responsibility lies with the community.
  • Let people know the consequences of a No vote.  More money will have to be spent on maintenance that could be used in other areas.  Medical people that have a choice of where to live won't move here which will impact medical service in our community.  It seems that the community just doesn't care.
  • Do not complain about the state of the existing buildings, this gives no-voters ammunition to say that we are not doing proper maintenance.  Tours should highlight the disadvantages of stressing the original design of the building, not that the sinks are not operational or the roof leaks.
  • This is not about the line separating Greywolf from Haller.  We could have K-2 at Greywolf and 3-5 at Haller.  No lines!
  • Do not sell this as a security issue.  Any new building should be secure, but that is not the reason.  Many will say that it is only a false sense of security noting that buildings like Columbine and Sandy Hook were "secure" buildings.
  •  It doesn't seem right that a No vote is worth more than a Yes vote.
  • Heard that someone is buying land for Syrian refugees.
  • Make sure that any new building is secure, keeping drugs out of our schools.
  •  I think if the amount requested were to be reduced, for any reason, it would only show weakness of conviction, and perhaps even worse, provide the opponents with ammunition to question the credibility of the needs to be fulfilled by the funding, which are many and varied including basic health and safety issues.

Alternative Ideas Not Explored

  •  Incorporate community sharing a library or community kitchen with the district.
  • Why don't we build a 2-story building?
  • Consider different elementary school configuration.  Research shows that three 400 student schools are better than two 600 student schools.
  •  Naming rights for new buildings?  Some sort of sponsorship?  Explore hidden pockets of affluence.
  • We have to build a sense of pride in our community that includes pride in our schools.
  • Make kids and the district more visible.  Maybe stage a Flash Mob at the Lavender Festival or during first Friday. 
  • At district performances offer a free matinee for seniors. Look into using a Capital Levy to build the elementary school
  • Look into using a Capital Levy to modernize the science rooms
  • Ask supporters to put big purple/gold bows on their front doors and/or mailboxes to show support for the bond.  May influence neighbors to "get on board" if lots of support is shown.
  • Consider appointing two advisory committees--one of concerned citizens including some voters who have expressed a negative towards past bonds and one made up of student leaders. These committees should provide new ideas on how to correct the poor conditions that exist in our schools.
  • Build additional classrooms, beyond the present 4 planned for in the last bond, at Greywolf Elementary to alleviate the crowding at Helen Haller Elementary
  • Wouldn't it be a lot cheaper to modify existing plans then buying new plans...
  • Keeping the labor force local is extremely important also .... a lot of things need to be addressed ....
  • Another suggestion:  start a website for the bond with easy to read fact sheets about how much it is going to cost.  Just easy bullet points. No one wants to read pages and pages of information.  Just the bottom line.
  • Maybe you can cut costs by putting forth a project to future architects in Washington State colleges and universities.  Have them come up with a design that is reasonable looking and less expensive than what you are asking for.
  • Change the language / verbiage from Bond to Mortgage.  People don't know what a bond is but understand mortgages. In all presentations refer to it as a mortgage; the School District is taking out a Mortgage.
  • I believe that the opponents would never negotiate in good faith, and if any compromise were to be sought, we proponents to the bond would find that there is in fact no amount that is small enough for the opponents.  If they get us to talk about lowering the bond amount, they are only, once again, spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).  In my opinion, I believe it is this FUD that they spread that sadly made the difference as the bond would have otherwise passed with such a great turn-out in terms of voter participation.
  • Just build an Elementary and not all the other stuff
  •  Lease the empty storefronts at QFC and use them for OPA, a kitchen, a warehouse.
  • What about all the empty spaces in the District Building, why not just use them for the band and choir?
  • Cut the District Staff; why does the Superintendent need 25 Assistants? 
  • What about that old school near Port Angeles, Fairview?  Maybe move the Greywolf students there and then HHE to Greywolf
  • Consider grade level reconfiguration when determining capital needs.
  • The idea of a bond issue that lists the individual items to be voted on is a good idea.  Not easy to figure out how -- but a good idea.
  • Don't put a lot of money into structures that should just be torn down.
  • The district needs to raise more awareness
  •  What if you added in the school proposal to help fund the building of the senior center?  I think you might get an abundance of support from the majority of our community if they are included somehow in the big picture.
  • How about a new track with a nice exercise path around it open to the public so people don't have to be on the track during practices.
  • Maybe new Tennis courts and pickle ball courts could be built for the Senior Center so they don't interfere with the ones at the high school?

 Reach Out to More Groups

  • Reach out to people other than those in the choir
  • Most people do not know the difference between a bond and a levy.
  • A good place to connect with people is the Dog Park
  • Only six people showed up to the first Listening Session.  There was an information night for Helen Haller parents and nobody came.  How are these session advertised?  Find different ways to communicate.  Go to them rather than expecting them to come to us.
  •  Older people who have no contact with the schools don't understand the need
  •  Talk to local contractors so they bid on the projects and understand that construction here will benefit them
  •  It's too easy to blame parents when not all families have the same advantages within the school system.
  •  Input from the community is needed to pass the bond.  Outreach to different groups in Sequim.
  • Working parents w/two jobs don't have time to vote.  Bring involved parents back in. 
  • Realize that we need to do something different next time.  Recommend a citizens task force not related to facilities.  Establish better communication with other groups reaching out to the entire community. 
  • The last bond was passed in 1996 on the third try.  With so much turnover in the community the success of the last bond gets lost in the turnover.  The projects were built over 2-3 years, came in 1 mil under budget and were paid off early, saving taxpayers lots of money.  
  • Perhaps students could arrange for a Flash Mob at the Lavender Festival or First Friday to make positive connections with people.
  • Maybe every time there is a performance have a special free matinee for seniors, to generate good will.
  • Construction is a big part of our community.  Our contractors need to feel that they are part of the solution.  Encourage them to band together to be able to take on the job.
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