Inside Opinion

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Tag: school levies


A comeback to our school levy editorial

David Groves, a state Labor Council spokesman and author of many an entertaining rant, emailed me this response to our editorial today about the passage of school levies.

Your editorial today fails to explain/consider why school levies passed so overwhelmingly this year as opposed to past years. Supporters ALWAYS remind folks that maintenance and operations levies don’t raise taxes. Why is this year any different? I can’t find one single M&O levy that failed in the entire state, can you? Has that ever happened?! I can identify several that failed to get 50% two years ago — when state coffers were flush and 51% of us were supporting I-960 – that passed this year with 60%! I don’t think there has ever been a levy election so successful for schools. EVER. So what’s changed?!

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Crucial school levies on the ballot

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

If you live in the South Sound, chances are there’s a school levy on your ballot Feb. 9. Please don’t overlook it.

These levies – all of which would simply renew property taxes previously approved by voters – make all the difference between healthy school districts and distressed ones.

The Legislature is required by the Washington Constitution to fund “basic education,” but lawmakers’ definition of “basic” has little to do with the common sense definition. Money from the state typically funds about 80 percent of what districts actually do. Without the additional 20-or-so percent provided by levies, they wouldn’t be able to deliver much of what children need.

The failure of a levy (it takes two consecutive rejections to permanently kill one) throws a district into the equivalent of shock. The remaining funding must be devoted to survival-level operations. At direct risk are the extra teachers needed to keep class sizes manageable, school nurses and counselors, bus transportation, special education, athletics and anything else extracurricular, music, art, drama, classroom supplies.

And much else. A district without local levy support may even have to dispense with such niceties as textbooks for individual students.

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Coming: We recommend yes votes on school district levies

That multitude of school district maintenance and operation levies appearing on South Sound ballots next month? We endorse them all. Levy dollars, which usually represent roughly 20 percent of a district’s budget, are critical to the provision of basic education.

Some districts also have school construction measures on the ballot. We’ll weigh in on capital levies and bonds in the coming days.


Tacoma schools: Focus on operations levy first

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

No doubt about it, the Tacoma School District needs to get its school renovation program back on track.

The failure of successive capital campaigns in 2006 and 2008 has effectively created a district of haves and have-nots. Some kids go to school in attractive new buildings hard-wired for the latest technology; others attend class in dank and dingy buildings heated by 80-year-old boilers and covered by leaky roofs.

The Tacoma School Board is appropriately eager to get a school-construction measure passed. But before it sends a proposed $140 million capital levy to the ballot next week, the board should consider tweaking its timing.

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