The perspective of youth often fails to be addressed on the topic of the decision-making process associated with the future of the Bellevue Elementary building. The complex and controversial issues surrounding Bellevue’s crumbling and inefficient elementary building are well known by the youth of Bellevue, nonetheless.
We hope to remind you, citizens of Bellevue, that the support from younger generations (who will benefit from a newly constructed building) is important to keep the future leaders of Bellevue engaged in community decisions. If our own ideas are not accounted for, we are only building a future for the past.
The revealing facts and statistics of the building’s inadequacy are meaningless without the realization that a changing education system and needs of students remain the driving force behind facility upgrades.
The lack of safety features and modern school practices is one of the most important issues at the current elementary. With no fire suppression system in the entire complex, the wholly wood structure of the 171 year-old main building would burn uncontrolled if a fire ever took hold of the building.
Even more troubling is the lack of escape routes in this part of the building, as the convoluted narrow hallways and the single rusting fire escape that leads into the enclosed concrete courtyard, would make quick escape of 100-plus children difficult and dangerous. Students with physical disabilities in wheelchairs and walkers cannot easily participate in many simple activities such as ascending the stairs to the music room, passing through the too-narrow cafeteria doors, playing on the non-ADA compliant playground, or navigate the narrow hallways to their own classrooms in the 1848 building. Students playing on the asphalt playground run just feet away from busy downtown streets and parent’s cars dropping off students on all sides of the campus.
In the past 20 years the district has added four preschool classrooms, an art room, special education classrooms, and reading intervention classrooms into already cramped spaces. Despite these additions, thousands of square feet have been condemned by the Fire Marshal as unfit for student occupation because of egress, fire safety, and accessibility issues. A modern structure, to fit 21st-century needs, will create a collaborative space for students to work together and develop necessary skills for tomorrow’s world. No one likes to pay taxes, but the services taxpayer funds provide must be used to keep generations of children in a safe, up-to-code, and modern facility to develop their learning.
A renovation would cause a myriad of logistical complications, such as the housing of classrooms and children during the time of reconstruction and the usage of designated funds. The challenge to transmute schools and create socially transformative classrooms will enhance an even greater learning environment. The Bellevue Community should work together and provide a modern 21st-century school building in hope of guiding and influencing a child’s ineffable learning for generations to come. Voters face the question to either invest in a better future for Bellevue now, or pass on the community’s troubles to the next generation. We hope the youth of our community will choose to invest in solving these major issues now, so our descendants will have the quality education expected in 21st-century America.
and multiple members of the
BHS Composition II college class