Proposition 1 launches campaign to improve Tacoma school buildings

Proposition 1 supporters kicked off their campaign Jan. 5 for safety, security and health upgrades throughout the Tacoma School District.

Close to 200 students, parents, teachers and community leaders gathered at Metro Parks STAR Center to generate enthusiasm, sign up for phone banks, pick up yard signs and hear the details of the plan.

Proposition 1 would pay for intercom, emergency communications, alarm and sprinkler systems.

It would fund seismic improvements, new roofs, plumbing and new windows in some schools. It would upgrade technology, labs, classrooms, playgrounds and playfields.

Only Geiger, Jefferson, Mann and Stafford elementary schools and Baker and First Creek middle schools need no improvements.

Fourteen schools, with an average age of 74 years old, would be replaced or have total historic renovations. Washington and McCarver elementary schools and Stewart Middle School are on the National Register of Historic Places and, like Jason Lee Middle School and Stadium and Lincoln high schools, would have total interior renovations. Science and Math Institute (SAMI), which is a collection of portables in Point Defiance Park, would get a $10 million campus. Downing, Boze, Grant, Birney, Lyon, Browns Point and Arlington elementary schools would be torn down and replaced. Wilson High School would get $40 million in new construction. The 30-year, $500 million bond issue would provide funds to replace and reopen Wainwright Elementary and Hunt Middle schools when student populations warrant.

At the Jan. 5 kickoff, students from SAMI made the case for a campus, and a Baker Middle School student talked about the positive difference the new school has made in the learning environment and the community.

School Board President Debbie Winskill, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Tacoma Schools Superintendent Carla Santorno outlined plans for greater cooperation among the district, city, parks and non-profits. That will put more pressure on the buildings, and pay off in benefits for the wider community.

To underline the need, Santorno introduced a video of school parents pleading for better schools for their children, followed by scenes of worn-out windows, bathrooms, boilers and classrooms.

Tacoma City Councilwoman Victoria Woodards urged supporters to donate money to fund the campaign. The campaign’s honorary co-chairs, Willie Stewart, Dan Barkley and Kathleen Merryman, asked backers to talk the campaign up with their friends, send supporting postcards and sign up for phone banks.

To learn more about Proposition 1, join the more than 100 people and organizations that have endorsed it, volunteer and get campaign supplies, visit Tacoma Citizens for Schools website, HYPERLINK "http://www.renewourcommitment.org" http://www.renewourcommitment.org click, onto its Facebook page at Facebook.com/renewourcommitment, or call (253) 282-4937.

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