Opinion

Levies keep schools healthy

Start checking your mailbox soon. In a little more than two weeks, ballots will be sent to all registered voters in the Snoqualmie Valley School District.

The ballots will include measures asking voters to consider two levies that would renew expiring ones approved back in 2006. The levies that will appear on the ballot include a four-year maintenance and operations levy, and a four-year technology levy. Nearly all of our neighboring districts are proposing levies of a similar nature on ballots in their respective communities, as well.

Why are we requesting these levies? Public schools in our state rely on local voters to approve special levies to fill the gap between what the state provides and what is ultimately necessary to educate the children who attend our schools. Here in Snoqualmie Valley, M&O levy funds comprise approximately 20 percent of our district’s operating budget and are critically important to the day-to day operation of our schools. Additionally, our state does not include technology in its definition of basic education and henceforth provides no funding for it.

As ballots appear in mailboxes later this month, voters residing in the Snoqualmie Valley School District will be asked to make a very important decision that will undoubtedly have a significant impact on our schools and the students who attend them. Before voting, I hope that you will take some time to acquaint yourself with the specific details of these levy propositions.

The maintenance and operations levy would renew the four-year levy approved by the voters in 2006, and provide funding for the years 2011-2014. These funds will make up the difference between what the district receives from the state of Washington and what is actually required to operate our schools and fund basic programming for the students who attend them each day. M&O dollars provide for additional teachers, specialists and support staff in the schools beyond what is funded by the state. Levy dollars are used to help pay for transportation, textbooks, utilities, maintenance and custodial services, and after-school academic, athletic and activity programs.

The second proposition on the ballot is a technology levy. Because the state does not provide funding for technology, local levy support is required to fund classroom technology upgrades and improvements that boost student learning and streamline district operations. This includes new computers for classrooms, libraries, computer labs, and other support areas; upgrades to servers that store staff and student work; updated software and information resources; staff development focusing on the integration of technology into classroom instruction; systems to keep our students safe and secure; improved emergency communications systems; technology peripherals such as printers, scanners, projectors, document cameras, and interactive whiteboards; and access to online resources and web-based software.

I believe that the quality of our schools is critical to the health, economy, reputation, and future of our community. Most importantly, however, these propositions will provide an important portion of the funding necessary to ensure that the Snoqualmie Valley schools continue to provide for our students the type of educational experience that they both need and deserve.

• Joel Aune is Superintendent of Snoqualmie Valley School District. For more information on the levy propositions, call the Snoqualmie Valley School District at (425) 831-8000 or visit www.svsd410.org.

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