Our schools need our support.
On Feb. 3, the White Salmon Valley School District will ask voters to approval a two-year replacement maintenance and operations (M&O) levy. The money goes to maintenance and normal operating expenses for the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years.
It covers everything from textbooks to transportation, and from utility costs to extracurricular programs.
Passage of this levy is vitally important to our local schools. If voters approve it, it will provide $1,425,000 per year for the next two school years. School officials have pointed out that the levy is a replacement levy, and not a new tax. Further, under this levy measure, the total tax rate per $1,000 of assessed valuation would actually decrease from current levels. That's correct: local property taxes would actually be lower under this levy plan.
According to school officials, the current school tax rate is $3.11 per $1,000. The projected rate for 2005 under the replacement levy would be $2.88 per $1,000.
The M&O levy funds are designed to bridge the gap between what the state allocates for school funding and the actual cost of keeping schools open and providing materials for students to help them learn. The school district has estimated that 71.9 percent of the levy will go to direct uses in classrooms.
If the levy is rejected by voters, the local school district stands to lose approximately $278,000 from the state "levy equalization fund." That money would simply not be provided if voters reject the M&O levy.
Student enrollment in the district has been declining, which leads to a decline in revenues to the school district. Budgetary constraints have been an increasingly serious problem in the past couple of years, and if this levy is not supported, we can expect to see some dramatic repercussions.
Please vote "Yes" to support our schools on Feb. 3. There is almost nothing that is more important than educating the next generation of our community's citizens.