[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]

All five of us Mathison kids graduated from Highline High School. My brother Phil went on to teach and coach at the school for two decades.
So, any proposed changes to Highline High are hard for me. If voters approve the school construction bond measure, 91-year-old Highline High will be rebuilt.
Fortunately, by working with Bassetti Architects, the district is demonstrating its commitment to trying to preserve the key historic aspects of the façade and structure and incorporate them into the new school. Bassetti has completed several historic school projects, including Roosevelt and Franklin high schools in Seattle and Stadium High in Tacoma.
Looking beyond outward appearances, one Highline High teacher reports, “Out front it looks pretty but inside it’s rotting.”
Architectural and engineering inspections found falling cornice joints, leaky roofs, dry rot and plumbing problems.
A few years ago, a major leak developed in a stairwell above the library and it is still causing periodic problems.
Students say the failing heating system makes it too hot in warm weather and too cold in cool weather. Windows can’t be opened.
The building’s out-of-date electrical system can’t keep up with modern technology needs. It takes students at least five minutes to sign on to computers in the computer lab.
Open outdoor hallways make it difficult to monitor who is coming and going from campus. In addition, students and staff opening and closing the outside doors multiple times a day add to the heating problems.
Continuing maintenance has kept the failing building functional way past its expected lifespan but at some point pouring more and more money into maintenance of a nearly century-old building just drains away funds that could better be used in the classroom.
Often replacement is a better solution than renovation when dealing with ancient buildings that cannot pass current, fire, safety, earthquake and technology codes.
We who attended Highline High back in the 20th Century should not deny its current students a 21st Century educational environment just because change is hard.
– Eric Mathison

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20 replies on “LETTER: Highline High School Alum shares thoughts on School District Bond”

  1. Too bad the district won’t give similar respect to Des Moines Elementary. They claim they will work with the city to “repurpose” it however the largest contributor to the Highline Citizens for School Yes Campaign is a commercial real estate investor from Bellevue and my guess is that he is interested in this property that might soon be vacant. Highline seems to make a lot of decisions with financial motives.
    Sorry Highline HS, I’m voting no because this bond package isn’t a good combination.

  2. Thank you, Eric. I mailed my ballot earlier today and voted YES! Even though I have no children, as a citizen supporting our schools is critical.

  3. This current bond is flawed and full of holes, if we are going to invest in our schools this is certainly not the bond to do it with.
    I for one am not in favor of giving anyone a blank check for 385 million to do with as they please with no accountability.
    There is no guarantee that the Facade will be saved, the School Board will do ‘As Deemed As Necessary’ as it is written throughout the bond proposal. Remember the bait and switch back in the 90s, when Highline School District said HHS was getting a new gymnasium and received the Highline Performing Arts Center instead. Let’s Vote this bond down and work together on a bond we can all agree upon. Vote No on Prop 1.

  4. “So let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools, even though I don’t personally have a kid in school: It’s because I don’t like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people.”
    He is right.

    1. If you live in King County and you don’t like living with stupid people You have a big problem. King County is the definition of Stupid People!

    The excess taxes you will pay will haunt your for years and they are on top of what you are already paying for school taxes on your annual tax bill. Your monthly house payment will go up significantly !

  6. Change for the sake of change is not always a winner. Change when you know the wisest thing to do is based on solid facts and wise choices is the best. Unfortunately, this Bond fails on all levels.
    All of the aspects of the whining taking place by those that think leaking plumbing, slow computer hook ups and undesirable interior climate conditions are reasons enough to tear it all down and start over are questionable.
    Vote NO on Proposition 1 and hold out for a Bond that leaves nothing to question…..for any reason.

  7. Here is the rest of that quote.
    “public education does not exist for the benefit of students or for the benefits of their parents. It exists for the benefit of the social order. We have discovered as a species that it is useful to have an educated population. You do not need to be a student or have a child who is a student to benefit from public education. Every second of every day of your life you benefit from public education. So let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools even though I don’t personally have a kid in school. It’s because I don’t like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people. Best wishes, John Green:

    1. If it is education you are expecting from your payments, I think you aren’t nearly getting your monies worth. Have you looked at test scores?
      Des Moines Elementary kids and parents are meeting the challenge. They are succeeding in meeting the standards.
      Look at which school is being destroyed and successful students are moving away. Figures!

  8. This is the best “Pro” bond statement I’ve read yet.
    Yes. Lets approve a bond for 400 MILLION dollars because you care about ONE school in the district.
    Oh. Sorry “all caps” haters. I used some. If it makes you feel better. I was intentional about yelling those points…
    No one has yet to point out one major flaw with this bond — Des Moines Elementary — I’m going to point it out now because of the tone via this most recent “Letter to the Editor.”
    Are you all aware that Des Moines Elementary is one of the top performing elementary schools in the district?
    Are you aware that the overcrowding, featured most recently on the Highline Citizens for Schools facebook page, at Des Moines Elementary, is because…wait for it…parents who were promised a TRANSFER for their child to this school were suddenly told NO by the district because the district decided they suddenly had enough money to provide free full day kindergarten?
    ALL of these parents had the chance to send their kids to a fancy, new school, like the one my own kids attend.
    And guess what?? Rather than being “forced” to send their kids to a fancy, new school. These same parents, motivated by fear from having to attend the beautiful buildings at Bow Lake, McMicken, Midway, Parkside…you name it, well…minus Marvista…, garnered enough support and petitions to have their kids stay at Des Moines Elementary and BEGGED for a new classroom to be created in the “basement closet” featured by the principal at Des Moines Elementary.
    Des Moines Elementary is one of the only elementary schools in the district, apparently, “doing it right.” And yet we are going to throw even more money their way to “support better schools??”
    Guess what?! New buildings do NOT equal better schools. Spend your tax dollars on TEACHERS, support staff and extended learning. DO NOT be confused by a pretty facade. If anything. Des Moines Elementary does not need extra financial support via my tax dollars. My children’s school, where we score a ONE out of TEN via greatschools.org. NEEDS our tax payers support.
    Sorry but. Highline Highschool and Des Moines Elementary are NOT the only 2 schools in the district that deserve our tax dollars.

  9. Don’t let your sentimentality for an old building get in the way of making everyone suffer. Ultimately a no vote is a selfish vote that stalls progress of our district and for our kids. How would you feel if you had to work in such old buildings and voters didn’t care enough to approve funds to build new?

    1. You are using the word ‘selfish’ as if it is a bad thing.So would you think it is selfish of the Highline School District to keep most of our hard earned tax dollars for themselves in paying salaries that equal millions and millions of dollars and the kids do not get the needed repairs to their schools? Now that is being selfish.

    2. I could care less about the “nostalgia of an old building.” What I said, if your read it, was that I care about paying our teachers and support staff more and providing extended learning opportunities for our most”at-risk” students.
      While Dr. Enfield enjoys the 2nd highest superintendent salary in the state. Our teachers are paid some of the lowest salaries in the state.
      This bond is not what tax payers should be investing in based off of (for many) an altruistic guise of “I support education.” This bond doesn’t support education. This bond supports the unnecessary building of new schools…one of which is the strongest academically in the district…plus 100 MILLION “extra” dollars for “whatever might come up.”

  10. I got a real laugh out of Eric’s letter telling that long story. I wonder if he went out and discovered that long list of repairs all by himself?
    It takes me back when Eric sat off by himself at Council meetings at the table seated with the public Relations person for the school. I always thought it was to keep him away from ordinary citizens and to receive his newspaper copy from the District as the meeting progressed.

  11. Some thing else to consider and I feel is being overlooked- evergreen and tyee campuses are just getting fixes. It is true HHS is in bad shape but, spend a day at either evergreen or tyee and you will discover they are in incredible need of replacement! In the last bond both evergreen & tyee were told they would be included on the next bond for replacement… What happened. Then there is the middle school issue… All four current middle schools need to be replaced as well but, in this proposal the plan is two new middle schools to house the the extra students that will be attending once 6th grade moves to middle school. It is clear that the infrastructure of our district is failing but is this bond the best possible option?? I have a tough time saying no to schools but, this is possibly the time I may!

    1. Yes Jennifer, something is very wrong with this bond and what you question is exactly why we need to vote this bond down, our schools do need to be addressed but this is definitely not the bond to do it with.
      Instead of having a bond forced upon us we need to all agree on a bond that will actually benefit our schools.
      Vote No On Prop. 1

  12. Thank you Eric for your thoughtful letter. This bond is a wise investment in our collective future. We have a Highline grad and soon, an Evergreen grad in our beautiful family. Both received an exceptional education in the Highline School District. I am voting kids, I am voting schools, I am voting yes.
    Mark Ufkes

    1. This is absolutely ridiculous.
      Shame on you for calling Eric Mathison a fraud and attacking the Mathison family.
      All he was doing was speaking his opinions, which you clearly don’t have a problem doing yet you are so defensive when the opinions are different than yours.

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