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Tech levy: Desirable, but not critical
The letter by Mr. Reitz (Valley Record, Jan. 22) includes his opinion that the proposed M&O levy and technology levy are equally important. I strongly disagree.
I sat as a member of the board of this school district for many years, dealing with the same education issues, except on a smaller budget. From that perspective, I know that this and every M&O levy has been and will continue to be critical to any Washington school district unless this state drastically increases its funding of our public education program. It would be unnecessarily repetitious to burden your readers with the litany of this state’s failures to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities for our public school system.
Our district currently obtains approximately 18 percent of its general fund revenue from a district implemented levy funded by our district’s property tax payers. As for the significance of that M&O levy, consider the disastrous impact on our schools if such funds were no available. That’s the definition of critical. The proposed M&O levy deserves our support!
It should be evident that the proposed technology levy and the teaching program it is intended to implement cannot be characterized as being “critical.” Rather, it may be a desirable next phase in providing a technologically oriented program in those subjects that may accommodate such innovations. This proposed transition is expensive. While the current technology levy has provided approximately $4 million over the past four years, this next phase is estimated to require further investment of approximately $10 million over the next four years, $4.3 million of which is anticipated to be required for training teachers in this upgrade.
As I commented at the recent board meeting, the WASL performance by our students is highly competitive with the Eastside districts, yet with the least per student cost. This performance is a real credit to all the district staff and students. Perhaps the other districts should consider our program, rather than the other way around. “Catching up” to other district’s literature seems weak justification for requesting nearly two and a half times the current funding through this proposed four-year tech levy.
Considering the condition of the state’s economy, the uncertainty of our financial future, the anticipated increasing taxes being discussed by the state and others, the widespread unemployment, the possibility of significant inflation, together with the probable need for a district facilities bond in the near future, necessitating additional taxing of this district’s property owners, it seems prudent to defer the desirable but hardly critical technology levy until a future date when this district’s needs are identified and adequately funded.