The theme of our current bond election is “Building for a Lifetime of Learning.” I personally believe that “learning” includes building strong bodies as well as strong minds. As the parent of three student-athletes who have thrived in the Renton School District, I have seen firsthand how involvement in extracurricular activities benefits our students in many positive, character-building ways. I’d like to focus briefly on this aspect of the bond proposal:
Renton Memorial Stadium renovation. The stadium, built in the early 1950s, was the largest of its kind in the region at the time. The interior areas of the buildings – locker rooms, office, press box, storage rooms, restrooms, shop and work areas – have not been updated since then and have the feel of cold-war military facilities. The light bulbs in the scoreboard are no longer made and so replacement is not an option, and the manual-style reader board is outdated and cumbersome to use. The Astro Turf field is overdue to be replaced by softer safer Field Turf. The upgrades and replacements proposed are not only needed but would add significant value to the stadium as a community and regional resource. A modernized facility would be of great interest to sports organizations in need of venues, as well as provide a safer, more competitive facility for our athletes.
Sports fields and track improvements. The tracks and practice fields (football and soccer) at Lindbergh and Hazen high schools are in dire need of replacement – the tracks, made of hard-packed cinder, are due to be replaced with the same rubberized, completely recycled material as the stadium track. The fields suffer from serious drainage problems, meaning that the laundry students put in the hamper is often a science lesson in composting. The weight rooms and gyms at both high schools are also in need of modernization (both are 1970s vintage), and of more practical use of space and equipment that reflects the emphasis on lifelong physical education. The gym, track and field work needed at the middle schools is part of the ongoing program of maintenance and replacement to maintain safety and quality standards for our students.
Thank you for the loud and clear message of support you sent in March by passing our operations and tech Levies by more than 60 percent. We know the support for the bond is there as well. We ask that you make sure to MAIL your ballot on or before May 20 to enable us to meet our obligations to our current and future students’ physical, as well as educational needs.
Lynn Desmarais of Renton is a member of the Renton School District Board of Directors.