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Yelm Schools Bond Failure – A Commentary

Diagram credit: South Sound Military & Communities Partnership, SSMCP

The failed $53.9 million Yelm Community Schools bond recorded 2,538, or 49.94 percent yes votes of the required 60% super-majority, as of February 11th.

Some thoughts on contributing factors in this set-back:
– The February 10th ballots arrived in the mail in late January with voters’ credit card statements including their holiday debts, a factor I had mentioned last Fall to Superintendent Andy Wolfe about this ballot’s timing.

– The large amount to be funded over such an extended period of time was a drawback. The Olympian echoed this in the Tenino Schools’ Levy passage:
“Voters bless scaled-back Tenino levy”
“A second try and a smaller request made all the difference for Tenino School District last week. A 57.6 percent majority of voters approved a $7.95 million capital-projects levy.”

– The 2 time failure of the $5.7 million Community Center Bond was a precursor to note that Yelm voters have little desire for the increase in taxes, having had to weather water rate increases annually since 2008, and the third year of sewer rate increases and other other city fees.

– As noted on the above South Sound Military & Communities Partnership documents Mayor Harding referenced at his State of the City address last week, 1 in 8 Yelm residents are active military personnel and all will not remain in Yelm when discharged. Yet, Yelm Community Schools has reported previously that over 33% of their students are from military families. Living on a monthly military stipend, the Schools’ Bond was too much for most to digest.

– If the voting public “get it” and have the will to go on the record as noted by a letter writer to the Nisqually Valley News, these views have merit and need to be addressed for the next vote:
“Last Wednesday, I attended the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Army listening session at Clover Park Technical College to express and hear concerns on the potential loss of up to 11,000 servicemembers and civilian workers at JBLM starting as early as 2015.

It was great to see and hear Yelm Mayor Ron Harding express the concerns of the city of Yelm, and hear him share that about 1,000 Yelm residents are themselves active-duty members of JBLM.

If each of those service members has an average of two children attending Yelm Community Schools (YCS) then youre looking at a possible loss of 2,000 students in the next year or so. So which is it? Is YCS going to grow by leaps and bounds, or are we facing half-filled schools in the near future? I would have preferred that YCS had waited until late summer to hear how JBLM will fare.”

Bottom Line:
While many Yelm area voters supported and voted for the Schools’ Bond passage, the majority of voters did not. On the next ballot for a Schools’ Bond, the aforementioned factors should be considered and clearly addressed for the public, to insure passage on the next ballot.

Diagram credit: SSMCP

Posted by Steve on February 17, 2015 at 6:49 am | Permalink

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