Available data suggests that Blaine school district has operated reasonably efficiently, as suggested by per pupil spending comparable to other area districts. Unfortunately, the current funding request includes a large item that jeopardizes that efficiency and is not now necessary.
The inclusion of $1 million to acquire land in or near Birch Bay for future school construction is problematic. Timing of the need for this school is unspecified. Blaine’s school enrollment has alternated between growth and contraction; recent enrollment is near the level of 2005.
It is not apparent that the school will ever be needed based on enrollment data. In fact, information on the city website indicates that the median age of our citizens is increasing, and the average household size is decreasing. These are not signs of accelerating growth in school enrollment.
Constructing schools apart from the main campus represents a threat to operational efficiency, as a central campus approach has inherent efficiencies. A school in Point Roberts was accommodated, but further departures from this model will increase costs and should be avoided if possible.
The district should exhaust all potential alternative solutions before constructing any additional schools off the central campus.
Even if another school might be needed someday, acquiring land now is premature. The supposed justification that land cost will increase ignores that: (1) if land cost grows, so will the tax base available to fund its purchase, maintaining relative “affordability”; (2) it is not the role of the school board to speculate in land investment.
The district stresses that Blaine’s tax rate per $1000 is lower than surrounding towns, as if that represents some untapped pool of money available for use. This is misguided: it primarily indicates a relatively lower number of students per dollar in the tax base. The rate does not justify more spending – each request must be evaluated for need, efficiency, and affordability.
Given the lack of clarity surrounding a major expenditure, the levy request should be rejected and the board should resubmit a revised request without funding for land acquisition. Vote NO.
Congratulations to those Blaine students who organized and participated in the recent March For Our Lives protest. The New Testament book of Titus tells us that we need to bring our children up so that they walk in righteous ways. It appears, as adults, most of us have tried to follow that sage advice but sadly it also appears we have failed our children on several fronts both in terms of safety and in the condition of our planet.
Moreover, we have focused our daily lives on the sure and steady conservative approach of incrementalism when we needed radical and revolutionary public policy behavior to save our kids. Perhaps in the slow and steady grind of everyday life and a monolithic system we have stumbled, but it might be equally true we did not entirely fail in those responsibilities since our sons and daughters harkened to the call of those conversations we had over our kitchen tables.
Now we are aided and reinforced with our children who as powerful students have found their footing addressing this nation’s social ills. Most noticeably, and chief among those concerns, is the belief that deadly force without reason is absolutely wrong and so, too, are weapons of war in the hands of despondent countrymen.
Our inability to resolve this issue has now fallen to a new generation who seeks to solve those complexities that plague us while they are demanding the light that we promised them. As a result, they have seized this moment in time for themselves. But they are not acting out of vengeance – in fact – what our children ask of us is, to once again, hold their hands and march forward raising our voices with their saying, “Enough is enough.”
These days, universal healthcare for Washington state, I-1600, is strong on my mind. I want to see every person in our state able to get the healthcare they need. Due to high profits by insurance companies and other factors, our healthcare system costs billions more than it needs to and still doesn’t cover as much as it could. As a large state, we can work to bring pharmaceutical prices down. The plan covers teeth, eyes and hearing with no copays.
Our daughter lives in France. She knows the benefits of a universal healthcare system. We are working hard to get the needed 300,000 signatures by early July to get I-1600 on the November ballot. We need to act for the sake of our own future and that of others living here. Then it can be a model for the other states.
Please look it up online typing in “Vote Yes on I-1600.” We need your help!
Paula M. Smith
Thanks for the construction photos of Mike Hill’s building for the new Starbucks. If Seattle has the Space Needle, can we call this Blaine’s Space Thimble?