I write this letter with a heavy, conflicted, yet committed heart.
Twenty years ago we moved from Southworth because South Kitsap School District lost levy votes. They cut co-curricular activities and availability of facilities. Class size rose; music and art disappeared; friends lost jobs. People moved away. South Kitsap still lags behind other districts in Puget Sound’s boom.
I see the burden that rising property values are placing on our island residents, as I meet with clients looking for solutions. Choices are difficult. Rising rents and scarcity of affordable housing are daily facts. I understand the conflict of choosing to vote “yes” for a continuation of a tax that is a burden but necessary.
The levy continues a tax the island has supported for decades, for staff and programs that we consider basic education. The state is not fully funding basic education. Without additional levy support, programs and associated staff would be cancelled.
District families bring new businesses, restaurants, artists and preschools. The park district and library are more robust. Families attend concerts and support the arts in programs all ages attend. They support a growing farmer’s market, Minglement and two grocery stores. These community assets provide programming, services and goods for retirees, seniors and young adults. Our local social services networks receive more support to aid vulnerable populations.
Our district employs 200 people. The levy supports 20 percent of the budget, so up to 40 of our neighbors employed by the district could be affected. It’s not really simple math, but it is not just students and employees affected. The ripple effect of the levy not passing could touch every islander: park users, farmers, restaurant workers and retailers and reduce support to our local non- profits while demand rises.
Our island identity is that of a community that supports one another. It has supported my family for 20 years. This weekend I will spend my time and money giving back by supporting two ends of the spectrum: attending Vashon Community Care’s annual fundraiser and by voting YES for the VISD levy. I hope you will join me.
— Susan Lofland