Top 10 Bethel Myths

Answering our critics (aka busting myths in Bethel)

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10. The state fully funds public education now. Bonds aren’t needed.

Not true. HB 2242 (the bill that “solved” the funding problem of public education) had nothing to do with bonds. Local school districts and their voters are still responsible for the majority of the cost to build new schools and fix old ones.

9. Bethel can’t build on the property on 224th/70th, even though they own it, due to the Growth Management Act.

This is the location where the 4th comprehensive high school will be built if the bond passes. It was true that we couldn’t build on the land for a time, but House Bill 1017 changed that in April of 2017.

8. You don’t care about Bethel High School, it always gets the short end of the stick.

We love Bethel High! If the bond passes, BHS will get a complete overhaul, similar to what we did at Spanaway Lake High School in 2010. Sure, we think BHS deserves a brand new building, and our community-led Long Range Facilities Task Force explored that option. But building a new high school from the ground up could cost upwards of $150 million.

7. Bethel wastes money.

Not true, and we have the records to prove it. We pay our employees fairly, have a good audit record, a good bond rating, and we’ve finished all our 2001 and 2006 bond projects early or on time and under or on budget.

6. This bond has nothing for my student. His/her school isn’t getting anything.

You need to look beyond your student’s current school. Every new building will take the pressure off of the other schools which are overcrowded. Elementary students will one day go to middle school and then high school. Look down the road a bit and you’ll see the impact. Plus security upgrades would be funded districtwide. And if the bond doesn’t pass, year round schools will impact every student in every building.

5. Bethel keeps passing bonds and then running more. I’m sick of it!

We are too! Running informational campaigns takes an enormous amount of time and energy. That said, you’re confusing levies and bonds. Our last bond was approved in 2006. While levies require only a simple majority of 50% +1, bonds require a 60% supermajority. That’s the reason it’s so difficult to get school construction bonds passed, and why you’ve seen three on the ballot in the past two years. We’d love to stop running bonds, but until we pass one, that’s not going to change.

4. I heard that more than 83% of Bethel parents did not vote in the February 2018 election.

According to data shared with us from the Bethel Citizens Committee for School Support, this is true. And it is sad.

3. Bethel isn’t as good as it’s surrounding districts.

Actually we are continually inspired by the success of our students and staff. Our graduation rates have soared to 90%, that’s well above the state average. Our state test scores continue their upward trajectory. Our schools and teachers are consistently recognized on the state and national stage, and our students are graduating and heading off to amazing careers and colleges. Bethel is a district to be proud of.

2. If I vote yes, that means taxes are going up … again.

We’re happy to report that no, they won’t. Though hard for some to believe, this is still a unique time in our state for funding education. The recent changes in state law have generated a more equitable funding model for districts throughout the state. This means that the state will now be collecting a tax to fund education, but that tax will actually be much lower than the amount we were authorized to collect in our previous maintenance and operations levies. Our financial advisor still indicates that local school taxes will actually go down for our taxpayers in 2019, even if the new bond is approved. And the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer agrees.

1. Voters approved a pool in the 1980s and it was never built.

We hear this all the time, and it’s simply not true. There has been a pool on Bethel bonds four times in the past: 1980, 1993 and twice in 2016. All four of those bonds failed. And just to be clear, there is NO pool on the 2018 bond.

Helping kids learn is the driving force behind all we do in the Bethel School District.

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