You spoke. We listened.
The Ferndale School District heard what the community told us loud and clear. You understand the need to modernize our high schools, but you want the work done in a financially conservative way the preserves the history of the facilities. We got it.
We asked and you have given your support to help us come up with a plan that addresses the desperate needs of aging facilities and the educational needs for a changing world. We invited you to propose a solution that made sense to you and that you would support. You answered the call. Some of you participated in design forums and town halls. Some of you came to countless small group meetings. Some of you held one-on-one conversations with us. In the great American tradition of communities coming together to solve hard problems, you came up with a compromise proposal that reflects everyone’s needs.
Although the process was sometimes messy and sometimes contentious, it ultimately resulted in a hybrid plan. The new bond proposal is a combination of new and remodeled facilities, an approach that not only lowers the price tag but also holds onto Ferndale’s proud traditions. The performing arts center, the gymnasiums, and the cafeteria will be renovated to address outdated mechanical, electrical, and energy systems, while the Alexander (classroom) building, Old Main and the Career and Technical Education (vocational) buildings will be completely rebuilt. In other words, we are saving the buildings in the best condition and replacing those that are beyond salvage. By taking this hybrid approach, we have dropped the cost to $89 million. You told us this was a better plan.
However, some of you said that $89 million, while considerably better than $125 million, is still too much to afford. For that reason, you will hear us talk about the bond in terms of Proposition A and Proposition B. While the project requires the work in both propositions to address the needs at the high schools, the voters will have the option to only elect proposition A at this time and defer Proposition B to a later time. Even though deferring the work to a future bond will ultimately cost more, some of you wanted that option. We listened. You will have that choice.
While the prospect of a Bond in 2016 for a new/modernized high school is easy to get excited about, we need to remind you that our Maintenance and Operations Levy is expiring this year too. That means the school district will also be asking you to approve a replacement levy in 2016. The Levy is a critical funding source that allows us to “maintain” the quality of day-to-day education and “operate” programs for students. The Levy pays for approximately 25% of everything we do. Despite all the talk out of Olympia about fully funding education, there has been no reduction to our dependence on the local Levy. Without it, the quality of our instructional programs and variety of educational and extra-curricular options for kids, families, and the community will be dramatically reduced.
The community has been telling us for years that they value quality education in Ferndale by continuing to renew our M & O levies. You told us last year we needed to change our approach to fixing our high schools. You told us what a better plan looked like, and we listened.
Please continue to support Ferndale’s proud tradition of strong schools, smart kids, and a caring community by exercising your right to vote on these ballot initiatives.
–Dr. Linda Quinn, Ferndale School District Superintendent