Thoughts on SVSD levies | Letter to the editor

Please vote yes on school levies

Every four years the Snoqualmie Valley School District asks voters to approve two 4-year levies to replace expiring ones. It’s that time again to renew our commitment to funding educational programs and upgrading technology in classrooms so all students have equitable access and wide-ranging learning opportunities to succeed in school. The locally funded Education Programs and Operations (EP&O) Levy and Technology Levy are not new taxes but are replacement levies essential to continuing programs and staff positions.

The EP&O levy funds broad course offerings at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. It funds music, world language, math and reading specialists, advanced courses (STREAM and AP), special education, career and technical education (CTE), college prep (AVID), arts, and drama. All athletics and other extracurricular club activities are also funded by the EP&O levy.

A range of educational programs is key to students having a well-rounded scholastic experience as they prepare for their future. Our Snoqualmie Valley community expects these services and experiences for its youth, but unfortunately they are not funded by the state because they are not considered “basic education.” Instead, these vital programs are only funded at the local level by school levies.

Renewing the EP&O levy also impacts students’ health and safety by paying for nurses, counselors, and social workers not fully funded by the state. All told, the EP&O levy covers 20% of our district’s services and represents funding required for approximately 200 school district staff. The levy renewal also allows our district to retain and hire quality teachers in a competitive labor market by making our district’s per pupil funding on par with neighboring school districts.

Technology is essential in today’s education, but the state only funds 20% of our school district’s technology needs. This local Tech levy renews support for equitable access to personal devices for all students in grades 6-12, coding classes and devices for grades K-5, teacher training, network infrastructure and fiber network improvements. The past 20 months have reinforced the value of investing in technology to support our students’ academic advancement.

The Snoqualmie Valley School District provides an excellent educational experience for our children and the local levies play a significant role in this experience. As a return on investment, our students’ test scores and graduation rates are far above state averages. Snoqualmie Valley students are also regularly recognized nationally and state-wide with awards and high achievements in categories such as musical performances, visual arts, athletics, and other extracurricular activities.

Please vote yes on the EP&O and Tech levies to provide Snoqualmie Valley youth with continued learning opportunities, excellence in education, social-emotional well-being, and upgraded technology. Please vote yes on Propositions 1 and 2, the two replacement levies. Our kids are worth it!

Kirk Harris and Chris Alef

Co-Chairs, Snoqualmie Valley Citizens for Schools

Help make our schools the pride of our community

As Snoqualmie Valley School Board president, I have the privilege to see and hear about the many wonderful things happening in our schools on a daily basis. We have so much to be thankful for. I am particularly grateful for our community’s levy investment that allows our students to receive an excellent education, enjoy rich learning opportunities and activities, be served by staff who truly care for them, and have access to up-to-date and reliable technology. Renewal of our district’s expiring levies in the February 8 election ensures we can continue providing these great services for our students, for the next four years.

Districts around the state are running levies to provide similar opportunities. What sets us apart is our return on investment. We have test scores and graduation rates far above the state average, national award-winning performing and visual arts, a wide range of advanced and accelerated courses, a wide range of elective opportunities, state and national award-winning activities and athletics, and outstanding services for students with disabilities. It’s our local levies that make this possible.

We do receive funding from the state for what is known as “basic education,” which covers much of the general program in reading, writing, math and science. It is our local levies that support the arts, world language programming, counseling support, program options such as Two Rivers and online schooling, athletics and activities, expanded access to career and elective courses, K-5 coding classes, improved school safety and security, current technology, much-needed special education support and more. It is hard to imagine what school would look like without these vital services.

I know these past two years have been hard on our students, families and community. Our levies have already proven to be vitally important in the process of supporting learning, healing and recovery. The availability of one-to-one devices for students and staff enabled us to connect and continue learning from a distance during the most difficult stretch of the pandemic. We’ve seen our nurses, counselors and support staff play huge roles in attending to our students’ well-being. Extracurricular opportunities, hands-on learning and extra academic support have helped students reconnect and re-engage. Having our community back together for sporting events, concerts and other events has highlighted, more than ever, the tremendous value of these levy-funded programs.

We clearly offer some of the best educational programs on the Eastside. As we contend with a competitive labor market, growing inflation and supply chain issues, levy support is essential for us to maintain the level of excellence our community has come to expect and that our students deserve. In terms of outcomes for students, there is no doubt that these levies are an outstanding investment. With our community’s continued support, the future is bright for our students in Snoqualmie Valley. Thank you for taking time to vote by Feb. 8 and helping make our schools the pride of our community and wonderful places for our students to learn and thrive.

Melissa Johnson, President

Snoqualmie Valley School District Board of Directors