With the February election fast-approaching, I wanted to share some thoughts on why I believe voters should support the Tahoma School District’s upcoming levy requests.
In this election, two of the three levies are replacement levies. These are taxes we’re already paying and have been paying for several years. The first would renew the technology levy currently on the books. As a technology professional myself, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that our youth are actively exposed to new technologies and how to utilize them appropriately. Technology in the workplace changes at lightning speed and the more comfortable our youth are at manipulating various technologies the better positioned they are to be successful in the world at large. The second would ensure we have the materials we need for programs, fund any gaps in teacher salaries, provide for extracurricular programs, transportation operating costs, etc. These are all critical areas that, without proper funding, could be greatly diminished or eliminated to the detriment of our schools’ qualities.
The third levy, the bus levy, would fund the purchase of new busses to increase the flexibility of the bus fleet and how well the district can serve the 4,500 kids who take the bus each day. Some busses in the fleet are older than 25 years old and are expensive to maintain and to fuel. Newer busses will reduce these maintenance costs and provide far greater fuel efficiency over busses built 15-25 years ago.
An important point to note, with new funding provided by Olympia, the levy replacements are capped at $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed value, half of what we’ve been paying for the last few years for the Education Programs and Operations Levy. Funding gaps still exist in school funding coming out of Olympia so like school districts throughout the state, the Tahoma School District is looking to bridge that gap through local funding. Note that even with a third levy added, tax payers would still be paying less for all three than what is being paid for currently with the two existing levies. That’s a tax cut for tax payers while still maintaining the high standards of our district.
Now, some have argued that we should simply wait a couple of years for Olympia to “fully fund” education throughout the state. Really? Have these people been paying attention to how well Olympia comes through on such promises? I, for one, put little faith in Olympia to solve problems here in the Tahoma School District. In fact, the principle of subsidiarity states that problems are best solved as close to the source as possible. That source is here in our local community. And we have the ability and know-how to solve our issues locally without intervention from Olympia whatsoever and without waiting to see if they finally get their act together.
I respectfully ask you to join me in supporting all three levies for the Tahoma School District and ensuring our children continue to have the technology, programs, teachers, materials and safe busses that we expect of our district. We’re empowered to solve our own problems. Let’s come together and do just that!
Maple Valley, WA