January 26, 2010
School levies deserve your attention, your vote
If your Feb. 9 election ballot is still sitting in a pile of unopened mail, dig it out and mail it in. The No. 1 concern with passing the levies is getting enough voters to care. If you have kids or grandkids in school or soon to be in school, you probably do care. If you don’t, then care anyway — because the kids in the neighborhood today don’t deserve any less of an education just because the economy is in turmoil.
State budget cuts have already got districts scratching for funds to keep classroom sizes from burgeoning out of control and to maintain enhanced educational programs — including athletics, music, arts, advanced placement and others. Administrative cuts have already been made, transportation cuts are done, reserve funds have come into play.
The No. 1 paramount levy, critical to education, is the maintenance and operations levy. If it fails, you can bet the district will try again to gain voter approval — but an election costs money, too.
If the M&O levy still didn’t pass, teachers would be cut. There’s no way around that. The funding of 12 elementary, 17 middle school and 22 high school teachers, and a host of other staff members, are all dependent on passing of the M&O levy. Let’s not go there.
The bus levy will be collected only in 2011 at a rate of $45 on a $500,000 home. It may not seem as critical, but the district would lose out on state funding that offsets the cost of those buses. It makes school buses seem like a bargain.
The third levy, for capital projects, raises some eyebrows. There is no doubt that school buildings and equipment must be maintained, but repairs account for less than 15 percent of the request. The other 85 percent is for technology, including replacement of computers and software. Who can argue the need for replacing computers? These days, it’s a fact of life. The need won’t go away.
The Levy Committee — made up of community members — did its homework and brought a conservative levy package to the table. Vote yes to all three school levy requests. And don’t forget to return your ballot. Heck, why not do it today?