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Ballots mailed for Vashon school levy; Election Day is Feb. 9

Ballots for King County’s Feb. 9 election, which were mailed to Vashon voters this week, include a request for a four-year levy to help fund the Island’s three public schools.

The levy, which covers about 20 percent of the school district’s operating costs, needs a simple majority to pass. According to the school district’s Web site, the levy would bring in between $3.6 million and $4 million a year over the next four years.

The levy does not represent new taxes, supporters say, as property owners are currently covering a levy voters approved four years ago. If this one is passed, the current tax rate of $1.41 per $1,000 of assessed value would be applied in 2011; by 2014, at the end of the levy, that tax rate would climb to $1.49.

A homeowner of a $500,000 house would pay between $700 and $745 a year, according to the school district.

Michael Soltman, superintendent of the Vashon Island School District, says the levy comes at a critical time. The state legislature is currently considering another round of far-reaching budget cuts, which will likely affect public schools across the state.

“It’s an extraordinarily important part of our district operations,” he added. “It funds classrooms, teachers, instructional materials, utilities. ... School districts across the state are completely dependent on local levies.”

A small campaign has been put together to work on the levy’s passage. Anne Atwell, a mother of three, is heading up that effort. Several other parents, including Marly Koch, Nancy Kappelman and Glynis Delargy, are also working on the effort, she said.

“This is essential stuff,” Atwell said, referring to what the levy covers. “It all goes into the general fund.”

Vashon almost always passes its levies, Atwell noted. Her only concern is that Islanders remember to mail in their ballot; this February’s election, like recent ones, is a mail-only election.

“I believe Vashon supports education. Historically, it always has,” she said. “But I hope people don’t think it’s a slam-dunk and forget to mail in their ballots.”

The school district is paying between $20,000 and $24,000 to be on the Feb. 9 ballot, according to the school district.

If it fails, the school board will likely put it before voters again later this spring, Atwell said.

To learn more about the levy, Islanders can attend a question-and-answer period before the school board’s next meeting, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28. Or visit www.vashonforschools. org.

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