Feb. 7: most important day of the year for kids

On Feb. 7, the Snoqualmie Valley School District will submit to voters three levy propositions to sustain school operations. Since state and federal funding cover only a portion of the cost of operating our schools, the resources derived from local levies are needed to meet the needs of the students who attend our schools and keep our schools competitive with others in the region and state. The three levy propositions that will appear on the ballot include a maintenance and operations levy, a technology levy and a school bus levy.

The maintenance and operations levy, which is up for renewal, helps cover basic operating costs that are not fully covered by state and federal funding. This particular measure is not a new tax, but would replace the four-year levy approved by the voters in 2002. The maintenance and operations levy has been supported by voters in our community for over 30 years and provides approximately 19 percent of the district's general fund budget revenues. Levy monies contribute in part to virtually every aspect of the school district operations and programs.

The technology levy will provide funding to replace and enhance existing technology in classrooms, libraries and computer labs. At this time, a majority of the computers in the district and many of our servers are 5, 6 or 7 years old and are becoming obsolete. Many of these computers were purchased with funds from the bond approved in 1997. A small portion of the bond approved by the voters in 2003 was utilized to install a districtwide fiber optic network last summer. This high speed network will serve the district well for many years to come. Computers and other technology that essentially "plug in" to this network will be purchased with proceeds from the technology levy if approved by the voters on Feb. 7.

The third levy proposition that will appear on the ballot will provide funding for the purchase of school buses. New buses are needed to replace older, less efficient buses that are at or near the end of their useful life. While the state provides some funding for school bus purchases, the level of funding is not adequate in terms of school bus replacement and additional school buses to meet the needs of an increasing number of students. Student enrollment is growing in the district, and we project that more school buses will be needed to transport them to and from school.

More specific information in regard to each of the three ballot propositions can be found on the school district Web site: www.snoqualmie.k12.wa.us or by telephoning the school district at (425) 831-8000. The outcome of the election on Feb. 7 will most certainly have a profound influence on the future of the school district and, most importantly, the students who attend our schools. I would respectfully encourage the citizens of our community to familiarize themselves with the details concerning these levy propositions so your decision on election day is an informed one.

We do not take for granted the long-standing tradition of support for schools in the communities that comprise the Snoqualmie Valley School District. While we have much to celebrate in our schools, we are committed to making them better for the students of this Valley. The resources from these three levy propositions are necessary to keep our schools strong, competitive and moving forward. Feb. 7 is, for our kids, one of the most important dates of the year.

Joel Aune is the superintendent for the Snoqualmie Valley School District.

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