Highline school district asking for public input on $299M bond initiative

DES MOINES, Wash. -- Highline Public Schools is asking voters to approve $299 million in a new bond initiative on the ballot in November.

It's a big price tag, but the district hasn’t passed a bond in 10 years.

So now it’s going in a new direction to try to involve the community.

“We heard people wanted more information, they wanted more specifics,” said Highline Public Schools Superintendent Susan Enfield.

Enfield said the district is giving the people what they want.  A 40-person Capital Facilities Advisory Committee is made up of people from every corner of district boundaries, including longtime volunteers, former employees, and Burien's Rose Clark.

“People were concerned a lot with safety and that was mostly around the buildings,” said Clark, co-chairwoman of the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee.

Safety is a concern for buildings like Highline High that has outdated infrastructure and technology.

“Yes, we need to be thinking about this current bond, but can we think several years out? Are there opportunities for cost-saving several years out,” said Enfield.

The dialogue opened up even more by the district’s use of a site called “Thought Exchange.”

“It’s more of an online conversation rather than a one-way survey,” said Enfield.

Some 1,500 people responded with what they liked or wanted to see improved.

“It’s hard to solve these capitol problems without an investment,” said Capital Facilities Advisory Committee Co-Chair Danielle Houle.

But Highline must work under state law.

“We have to pass a bond before we are eligible for any state money to build new schools,” said Enfield.

So these co-chairs and the superintendent are asking residents to dig deeper in their pockets for the kids.

“We need to have a lot of work done to make everybody aware,” said Clark.

You can download the Highline Public Schools app to keep track of all district news and celebrate accomplishments, like the district’s improving graduation rate.