Our students are worth supporting renewed school levies | Letter

Snoqualmie Valley Citizens for Schools, a non-profit, volunteer organization, is enthusiastically advocating for voters to approve two replacement school levies during the Feb. 13 Special Election. The expiring Education, Programs & Operations (EP&O) and Technology four-year levies were approved in 2014 by 68 percent and 69 percent of voters, respectively.

These two levies comprise 20 percent of the school district’s annual operating budget (16 percent EP&O and 4 percent Tech). These critical local levies bridge the gap between what the state funds and the district’s budget for day-to-day programs, salaries, and operations.

The EP&O levy pays for teacher training, substitute costs, and extracurricular activities (music, art, band, and sports). It pays for a significant amount of special education, food services, and summer school. The EP&O levy funds 29 of 46 (63 percent) nurses, counselors, instructional coaches, and gifted program teachers throughout the district. It would also address improvement opportunities for world language, art, and STEM; and reduce fees for classes and extracurricular activities.

The tech levy pays for nearly all technology in the classroom. Aging projectors and interactive displays need replacing. Current network infrastructure needs upgrades to keep up with the demands for wi-fi bandwidth required for modern curriculums.

The levy would continue to fund technology support and staff training. It would improve equity and access to technology for students with the district’s one computer per student initiative, which would provide all students in grades 6-12 a computer for school and home use, and provide classroom sets of computers for all K-5 students. The tech levy would also continue to fund systems needed for emergency communications and security for our schools.

We recognize the concerns voters have about taxes and the amount that is paid into the system. Here’s the bottom line. In a comparison of “per-pupil funding” with other school districts in King County from the 2016-17 school year (latest information available) when considering all sources of funding (state, federal, local levies and fees), our school district ranks last — 18 out of 18.

Despite the challenge of having less resources than our neighboring school districts, the test scores and accolades received by our students consistently rank near the top. The SVSD provides an excellent educational experience for our children and the local levies play a significant role in this experience.

Please vote “yes” on Propositions 1 and 2. Our kids are worth it!

Kirk Harris

Co-chair, Snoqualmie Valley Citizens for Schools