Editorial: Vote Yes to Schools Levy

Passing the levy once again is one thing our community can do to show our support for schools.

In the coming days, ballots will arrive in islanders’ mailboxes, with an ask for the renewal of our school district’s four-year Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy for the district’s general fund.

Vote yes — as islanders did in 2018 by a 67% margin for the district’s now-expiring levy. EP&O levies in 2014 and 2010 were approved by even higher percentages of Vashon voters.

The levy is not a new tax, and its passage is so important for island youth. Funds from the renewed levy, if approved, will continue to provide revenue for 15% to 20% of the district’s operating budget, supporting a wide variety of crucial services and programs at the district.

Levy dollars will ensure small class sizes and support academic, social and emotional structures — including clubs such as Sisterhood and Journeymen, which have only grown more important during the hard times of the past two years.

The levy supports professional development for staff and teachers, helping educators gain even more skills to match the moment they find themselves in. The levy also funds many health and safety measures including all nursing and related staff positions in the district.

The ballot measure calls for an assessment of $1.50 per $1,000 assessed property values — the same rate as the current levy. This rate would collect an estimated $5.7 million in 2023; $6 million in 2024; $6.4 million in 2024; and $6.8 million in 2025.

Throughout the pandemic, the district and its students and parents have faced unprecedented challenges. Passing the levy once again, by another impressive margin, is one thing our community can do to show our support.

Though the front page of our newspaper this week chronicles the ongoing trials of our district in the age of COVID, we have been heartened in recent weeks to see three new board members seated — solid and caring islanders, with rich life and professional experiences, who will bring fresh skill sets, perspectives, and much-needed diversity to the board.

We thank Marial Fernandez Thuraisingham, Allison Krutsinger and Kali Aguilera for answering the call to serve their community, joining board stalwarts Zabette Macomber and Toby Holmes as they continue their terms.

Together, this five-member board will soon approve the district’s new five-year strategic plan. At a board meeting on Jan. 13, the board and public got a glimpse of what this plan contains: a “Vashon Promise” to students in the district.

The promise is simple, yet expansive. It reads:

“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.”

Amen to that promise, for all our kids. Let’s all do what we can to make it come true — starting with approving the levy.