Kevin Opsahl/Staff Photo
                                Rheagan Sparks, chairwoman of the Vashon Island School District board of directors, and district superintendent Slade McSheehy told signs supporting the Cap/Tech levy on Saturday, Feb. 8, just days before the special election on Tuesday.

Kevin Opsahl/Staff Photo Rheagan Sparks, chairwoman of the Vashon Island School District board of directors, and district superintendent Slade McSheehy told signs supporting the Cap/Tech levy on Saturday, Feb. 8, just days before the special election on Tuesday.

Voters say ‘yes’ to school district levy

The levy will bring in $6 million to the district over the next four years

Registered island voters decided on Tuesday the expiring Technology and Facilities Capital Projects Levy for the Vashon Island School District should be renewed — by an overwhelming margin — for another four years.

The special election was held Feb. 11. King County Elections posted results that evening, but even after that, the totals continued to come in. As of Valentine’s Day, the county reported that 3,046 (72.78%) of registered island voters in this election approved of Proposition 1, while 1,139 (27.22%) opposed it.

With the levy’s renewal, the district intends to raise $1.5 million each year from now until 2024 for a total of $6 million.

In a prepared statement, the district’s superintendent, Slade McSheehy, praised the passage of the levy — something he had campaigned hard for with the “Yes for Kids” initiative — and what it would mean for local schools.

“I’m very thankful for our community’s support and continued investment in our student’s education and future,” he wrote in an email. “VISD is excited about being able to complete some urgent repairs on our facilities as well as provide the necessary tech and safety enhancements.”

Some of those building repairs and technological enhancements range from replacing carpet in classrooms at Chautauqua Elementary School; resealing brick at McMurray Middle School; and refreshing the exterior paint at Vashon Island High School. Technology priorities include implementing staff professional development, as well as replacing Chrombooks, laptops and digital perojectors.

Bringing in $1.5 million per year for the next four years, under the renewed levy rates, islanders would pay $0.4337 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2021; $0.4131 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2022; $0.3972 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2023; and $0.3819 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2024.

Asked by The Beachcomber what her response was to islanders who might consider the levy rates a considerable tax increase, Rheagan Sparks, chairwoman for the district’s board of directors, said she thought some might perceive it that way.

“But the community votes its values in terms of health care, emergency services and parks,” she wrote in an email to the newspaper. “The school board believes that quality public education is another value islanders will want to support to maintain the quality of life here.”

Sparks defended the board’s decisions in deciding the proposed levy rates and its priorities.

“The board conducted a thoughtful process with the district office and facility management teams reviewing needs and arrived at a levy recommendation that we felt was a relatively modest increase,” Sparks wrote, “but provides enough funding for the actual cost of those operations for the next four years to maintain our schools in the quality manner the community has charged us with.”

The levy, which covers 6.2% of the VISD’s budget, is needed in order to make up for the fact that the state “falls short of fully financing” programs and services, district officials have said.

In the same prepared statement he issued Tuesday night, McSheehy thanked islanders for the “large ask in often uncertain times” they voted for.

“I … am extremely grateful for Vashon’s commitment to keep our schools strong,” he wrote. “Lastly, I would also like to share my appreciation for and recognize our ‘Yes For Kids’ committee and our staff for the work they accomplished. I am fortunate to work alongside a great group of volunteers and staff who share the same hopes and dreams for our kids.”

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