Will Voters Choose to Improve Our Schools?

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Kya Nethercot, Editor in Chief

Students packed into halls and classrooms like sardines in a can, a nationwide crisis of school security, and aging facilities: these are the problems that face schools today. 

Mukilteo voters will soon have the chance to alleviate the effects of these problems with a $240 million bond that will be on ballots in February. It will cover the development of new classrooms and the expansion of commons spaces, new security measures, and the replacement of aging facilities such as plumbing, roofing, and HVAC. 

Arguably the largest issue the bond goes to address is the overpopulation of schools across the district. 

Karen Mooseker, the Executive Director of District Support Services puts this into perspective by explaining that “$160 million of the $240 million bond is to address space issues around the district.” 

This pressing issue will be alleviated with modifications and additions to seven schools. These developments are meant to accommodate the rapidly growing population of the region and reduce the current overpopulation. 

Every school in the Mukilteo School District is at or over capacity. With the new development projected for the next six years, the overpopulation of our education system is predicted to escalate drastically. Up to 900 new students may be packed into our schools when there isn’t enough room for the students we currently have. This means class sizes will continue to grow to levels we have never seen before, if our schools do not grow with our population.

That is one of the many reasons the bond is going to be so vital to our community. Another major reason that voters should support the upcoming bond is school security. 

In recent years, our nation has seen a concerning increase in school violence. From the beginning of the year to November, there have been 45 school shootings. As these distressing incidents arise more and more often, communities and schools are left to wonder, “what can we do to prevent that from happening here?”

 With this question in mind, the administration went to great lengths to ensure that the bond proposal included security updates across the board so that every school in the district could be safe in case of an emergency. The updates outlined in the proposal are “things that school security experts and law enforcement have recommended to [the bond committee] as the best and most effective systems.”

There are three major changes that will be made to secure our schools if the bond is passed. First, Mooseker said there will be “new classroom door locks so that teachers can quickly lock their classrooms from the inside (because now they lock from the outside with keys).” 

It will also “include updated interior intercom systems so that we can ensure that in any kind of situation that we can get the message out to everyone quickly and so that everyone can hear them (at a few schools we do have issues where the speakers aren’t situated well enough and can’t be heard at certain parts of the campus),” according to Mooseker.

Finally, Mooseker said, “The other major piece is what we call automated access control systems which are mostly intended for exterior doors. What we would do with that system is look at each school and we would really work with the school and our security experts to define the primary point of entryway and how we consider each other door during the day. It is a way to manage access and control of the building.”

These three changes should ensure the safety of our students in case of an emergency. The safety of children and teens in our community should be an important consideration for voters when they choose their position on the bond. In order to keep up with these dangerous times, we need to fund our schools’ security. 

Another issue that community members should consider when they vote in February is the age of our schools’ facilities. Mariner High School just celebrated its 50-year anniversary, and many of the others are just as old if not older than that.

With age, school buildings become outdated and need many renovations. In our district, we have schools that need plumbing, roofing, HVAC, and flooring updates. These updates are vitally important to our students’ education because if students are uncomfortable in their classrooms or facilities it may be difficult to focus. For example, if heating doesn’t work in a classroom, students may be distracted by the cold temperature of the class.

For all of these reasons, voters will need to pass the bond on February 11th. For more information on these issues and the bond itself, check out the 2020 Capital Bond Page.