Yes for CHS is composed of community members advocating for significant reinvestment in Clarkston High School, providing resources towards that goal, and campaigning for public support of reinvestment at CHS.
The majority of our community agrees: Clarkston High School is in need of significant reinvestment. The last major construction project on the campus was construction of the auditorium in 2001. Students and educators deserve a school environment that is functional, safe, and meets the needs of modern educational delivery.
Yes for CHS supports the Clarkston School District's ongoing efforts to secure community support for significant reinvestment in CHS, whether that means a whole new design, remodel of the current buildings, an alternative construction method, or a phased approach to reinvestment in the CHS campus.
Publicly-owned universities and private schools in Washington have successfully secured private donations to fund or partially fund new structures on their campuses. This approach is uncommon for public schools in Washington.
We believe it is possible to find success with a moderate capital campaign that pairs area philanthropists with the Clarkston School District's needs on the CHS campus. Yes for CHS is ready and willing to establish a capital campaign committee to support philanthropic opportunities with the Clarkston School District.
The state of Washington's current funding structure places nearly 100% of the burden of funding school facilities on the local taxpayers. For rural school districts who lack a diverse tax base, this means the cost of school maintenance and construction is a burden to residential property owners. Several legislative opportunities exist to lower capital facilities costs for public school districts. Yes for CHS believes the following ideas should be a priority for the Washington legislature.
1. Significantly Increase State Matching for Capital Facilities Projects
The state of Washington provides limited matching funds to school districts to augment funding for capital facility projects. In the 2023 Clarkston High School Bond, the state of Washington would have provided $9.5 million in funding towards the construction of a $88.5 million dollar facility.
Yes for CHS supports the idea that funding for school facilities is a local and state partnership. The partnership, however, must be more equitable and Yes for CHS advocates for increasing the state match, especially for "rural" school districts.
2. Provide State Matching Funds for Capital Levies, too
Currently, the state of Washington only provides state matching funds for school district facility projects funded through a bond. State law requires 60%+1 voter approval of bonds.
School districts can also fund capital improvements through a maximum six-year levy, however, the state of Washington provides no matching funds for capital levies.
Yes for CHS advocates for legislation that will provide state matching funds for both bonds and levies.
3. Establish a Revolving Loan Fund to Decrease Bond Expenses
Rising interest rates have impacted the long-term cost of capital projects. The State of Washington could establish a revolving loan fund to provide low-cost loans to public school districts for capital projects at below-market rates.
Senator Mark Schoesler is one of the sponsors of Senate Bill 5344, which would establish such a revolving loan fund. SB 5344 did not receive support in the 2023 legislative session. Yes for CHS advocates continued legislative negotiation and passage of the concepts outlined in SB 5344.
4. Exempt School Districts from State and Local Sales Tax Requirements
Public school districts in Washington must pay the state and local sales tax on goods and services purchased to construct new school facilities.
Using the 2023 CHS bond as an example, the Clarkston School District would have paid $5.1 million in sales tax back to the state of Washington. Actually, the Clarkston School District would have financed $5.1 million in sales tax, which would have equated to $9.5 million in sales-tax related costs over the life of the bond.
Yes for CHS advocates that the legislature exempt public schools, especially rural schools, from paying sales tax on the goods and services purchased to fund new school facility construction.
5. Allow School Districts to Implement a Local Option Sales Tax to Fund or Partially Fund Capital Projects
If the legislature declines to exempt school districts from state and local sales tax requirements, Yes for CHS advocates that the legislature allow school districts to implement a local option sales tax to fund or partially fund capital projects.
In 2019, Clarkston's voters overwhelmingly supported a local option sales tax to fund construction of a jail. This measure required only 50% voter approval to pass.
If we can build jails with a sales tax, we should be able to fund reinvestment in public schools with a sales tax.