Rally supports $500 million bond measure for Tacoma schools

TACOMA, Wash. - The Tacoma School District wants voters to fork out a half-billion dollars in new taxes for better schools. Supporters believe it will help kids learn better - and maybe even save their lives.

And on Sunday they were out in force - it looked and sounded like a high school pep rally.

Several hundred passionate teachers, students and parents vowed to win the battle for the hearts of Tacoma taxpayers.

"It's important that we have healthy, safe homes. It's important that we have healthy, safe schools," says parent Jennifer Boutell.

Saturday's rally at a local community center launched the campaign for Proposition 1 - a $500 million, 30-year bond measure that would cost an average household nearly $5 a month in new taxes.

The money would pay to rebuild the district's most dilapidated schools - and upgrade many of the others - fixing problems that distract students from learning.

"And you can't focus on the teacher 'cause you're focusing on that 'cause it's all broken and messed up," says fourth-grader Annabelle Daniel.

The bond measure, if approved by voters, would pay for new windows and plumbing, science labs and access for the disabled, fire sprinklers and earthquake retrofitting.

It would also pay for improved security - something that's foremost on the minds of parents after the mass shooting last month at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

"I don't want my daughter to be going to school in a building that isn't designed for modern security needs," says one parent.

Deputy Superintendent Joshua Garcia knows kids cannot reach their full potential if they don't feel safe.

"We know that on any given day, it can happen anywhere in America," he says.

It's not about scaring support out of the community - but the money would help pay for many new security features.

"We will always use every opportunity to improve safety for our kids our teachers and for our community," says Garcia.

So far, no opposition group has stepped forward publicly. Election Day is Feb. 12.