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School election is important
Next Tuesday, the Snoqualmie Valley School District is proposing three levies to be voted on by Valley residents. The levies are for maintenance and operations, new buses and technology updates and upgrades.
As most readers know, I am a huge supporter of improving our school system. Snoqualmie Valley has some of the best schools in the state, as evidenced with many awards. Our school board has been recognized by its peers as being the best in the state and our test scores reflect student achievement that exceeds many neighboring districts. So it should come as no surprise to hear me urge you to vote yes for these three levies.
Why am I so supportive of education? Look at how many jobs are going overseas. Our graduates need a broad pallet of skills to find careers that support their desire to contribute to society and support them financially. Voting down a school levy will cut into programs that help our students achieve success. With each new generation of students, the difficulty in keeping them engaged in education becomes more difficult. There are many other distractions beyond the "Ward Cleaver household" style of life that some detractors of the school levy think is reality. It takes many different opportunities to keep our children engaged in the learning process. I think it's important that we find and use every one of those opportunities so each graduate becomes a contributing member of society, not a burden for us to support through government aid.
Maintenance and operations is crucial for the continued programs provided by the district. A maintenance and operations levy supplements state funding, which is woefully inadequate in today's world. Our levy amount for the M&O portion is also growing due to the new construction, but our actual cost per thousand is relatively flat. The WASL becomes a very important part of the education process as the class of 2008 needs to pass the WASL to graduate. Voting down the M&O levy could impact the district's ability to meet that goal.
The bus levy should be a no-brainer. It's obvious that many of our current buses are pretty old and not as fuel-efficient as the newer buses. Our school district is the largest district by area in the state. As such, our buses travel tremendous distances each school year. Anyone who owns an old car knows that, at some point, it is cheaper to replace a vehicle than continue to maintain it. I feel confident that the director of transportation, Jim Garhart, the superintendent and the school board are smart enough to figure out when buses need to be replaced. The buses to be replaced are older than the average life of a school bus and older than many of our own vehicles. The new buses are needed to support a rapidly growing school district with at least one more school planned in the near future.
Finally, there is the technology levy. Some of the discussions about the need to upgrade computers are hilarious at best. What was surprising to me is the lack of support from the state Legislature to fund technology in the classroom. Do we honestly think a lack of computer skills is going to help a student become a contributing member of society? If you are in a position to hire a person, do you even consider those lacking computer skills? I replace our home computers about every three years to take advantage of techology changes. Shouldn't our schools, teaching our children, be in the same frame of mind? One suggestion was to just upgrade existing computers. How many of us have found that upgrading older equipment ends up costing more in the long run? With the lower prices of desktop computers these days, it is easier to get new equipment and have it work properly than to limp along with an older computer and have it not work properly. Besides, when you are talking hundreds of computers needing upgrades then you have to pay someone to do the upgrades as well.
Whatever your feelings on the school district levies, the most important thing is to get out and vote. My biggest fear is voter apathy. If you truly believe in our community, for or against the school levies, then get out and vote.
For more information on the school levy, check out the Web site at www.snoqualmie.wednet.edu. They have been working hard to provide all the information requested.