COMMENTARY: Levy makes essential parts of island education possible

As you may have read in The Beachcomber’s editorial last week, in the school district’s new proposed strategic plan there is a “Vashon Promise” — “Every student in Vashon Island School District is welcomed, known, and treasured, and graduates with the confidence and competence to thrive in a future they imagine.”

Many islanders worked on the strategic plan and while we worked two foundational ideas kept coming up — student voice and community engagement.

Vashon Island School District does not exist in a bubble on the island. The district is part of the community; the community is part of the district. While there are many community organizations who help make the education on the island as incredible as it is, not every islander usually gets an opportunity to participate directly with student education. Except when we vote.

Voting “yes” on the upcoming levy is the community’s way, your way, to say “Yes! We support student learning, we support the teachers, we support the staff.”

The Educational Programs and Operations levy renewal proposition that we will be voting on is not a new tax: it is a replacement of the levy approved in 2014.

The proposed levy rate is $1.50 per thousand of home value for each of the next four years, similar to the current local levy rate for schools. The estimated rate, given the value of homes on the island, will be approximately $1.10 or less.

Every four years, our district proposes this “Educational Programs and Operations Levy” to the voters. The levy represents nearly 15% of our total operating budget or, for 2022, $3,927,557 of a total operating budget of approximately $26,500,000.

This levy provides crucial support for many of the programs and services that our students and families assume will always be a part of the VISD experience.

What are some of these programs and services the levy helps support?

The levy pays for the actual costs of meeting special education students’ educational needs that are mandated by state and federal law, as well as training and professional development for our faculty and staff. Several support positions in our district are paid out of these local levy funds including many paraprofessionals, school secretaries, and counselors.

It pays for programs that enrich the academic and extra-curricular experience of our students including arts, music, theater, AP courses, sports, clubs, field trips and other enrichment programs.

It helps to pay for keeping schools and grounds safe, functional, and clean.

It helps recruit and retain a highly qualified and effective teaching staff — and provides financial stability, with assurance to our faculty and staff that they will enjoy stable employment and they can expect to build a career in our schools. And it provides resources for ongoing professional development and training which enhances job satisfaction and the strength of instruction in our classrooms.

When we say, “every student in Vashon Island School District is welcomed, known, and treasured, and graduates with the confidence and competence to thrive in a future they imagine,” we need the support of all islanders to make this a reality.

Please vote YES on Feb. 8 to continue to support our young islanders.

Information about the history of our levy, the current levy proposal and answers to common questions are available on the district’s website, at

Zabette Macomber and Toby Holmes are the chair and vice-chair of the Vashon Island School District board.