Opinion

Islanders should support the tech/capital levy | Editorial

Voters on the Island have a little less than a week to weigh in on the Vashon Island School District’s request for a renewal of its technology and capital projects levy. The Beachcomber urges those who have yet to cast their ballots in this Feb. 14 all-mail election to support the measure.

The $3.6 million levy, which requires a simple majority to pass, would fund nearly 100 percent of the school district’s annual technology needs and major facility repairs at our three public schools.

This isn’t the glamorous stuff of education. Particularly on the “tech” side, which amounts to about two-thirds of the levy, we’re talking about a hidden infrastructure most of us take for granted — upgrades to the district’s networks, annual maintenance of the  phone systems and software updates needed at all three schools. It would also pay for the salaries of those employees who undertake these upgrades and improvements.

When it comes to the capital side of the levy, the needs become a little less abstract. With that portion of the levy, according to a working list by the school district, administrators hope to pay for a new wrestling mat at the high school, a new hot water heater at McMurray and a playground renovation at Chautauqua. Improved lighting, carpet care and window repairs are also on the list.

Ideally, these kinds of needs would be covered by state funds to the district. But state funding, as the Washington Supreme Court so powerfully pointed out recently, has proven wholly inadequate, and levy funds — once considered the source of special items — now pay for basic needs.

It’s also important to note that this is not a new levy but the renewal of one that’s been in place for nearly a decade, providing a stream of money that the district depends on. Like the current levy, it’s a three-year measure that would produce $900,000 in revenue annually for the district. It would cost property owners 39 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $161 on a $414,000 home, considered the average home value on Vashon.

Anti-tax crusaders have made much over the years about the money we pay to support our public institutions, suggesting taxes are a burden from which we deserve relief. But taxes are not a burden. They’re the price of admission to a democracy, our way of collectively expressing our values, hopes and dreams for our community.

Education, at The Beachcomber, tops that list. Please support this levy and enable the school district to carry on its important work.


Election information

Ballots must be postmarked by Feb. 14 to be included in the special election. Those voters who have not received a ballot should immediately call King County Elections at 296-VOTE (8683) or request one online by visiting www.kingcounty.gov/elections/voting/replacementballot.aspx.


 

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