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Two levies considered for schools

By ELIZABETH CIEPIELA

Staff writer

Next Monday, the Federal Way School Board will review two school levy proposals in a work-study session.

Board members will gather information from school officials about a proposed maintenance and operations levy and a technology levy. Based on that information, the board will vote Oct. 28 whether to put one or both on the ballot next February.

Teri Hickel, mother of two daughters in the school district and president of Citizens for Federal Way Schools, an organization of local volunteers who educate the voting public about school levies, said the measures help raise money for textbooks and sports programs and reduce classroom sizes.

Hickel said she doesn’t think it would be harder to win passage of both levies on the same ballot than if they were run separately.

“The state has increased expectations and decreased funding, making local levies vital to continue the current level of education,” Hickel said. “Limiting the costs of multiple elections is always a factor, but we also don’t want to confuse the voters. Running two separate elections can be confusing, because the public doesn’t always understand or remember the separate issues.”

But, Hickel said, “It’s easier to educate the public at the same time. We have an intelligent and supporting voting base in Federal Way who values education.”

Money from the maintenance and operations levies, which come up every two years, supports essential educational needs. These needs can include instruction, building maintenance and operations expenses, and safety and security.

According to the district, levy dollars currently go toward district staff, training, transportation, materials such as books and newsletters, student athletics and activities, and administrative staff support.

The proposed technology would be the first of its kind in the district, said Diane Turner, a district spokeswoman. Money for technology has come from the district’s budget, but because of budget cuts this school year, that’s no longer possible. If the levy is approved, the money will go into maintaining and updating the district’s technology department.

“Technology is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity because kids must graduate with technological skills,” Hickel said. “Technology is expected in the job market and at home. It will be an expectation in the near future.”

School Board member Earl VanDorien Jr. said putting both levies “in front of the voters” at the same time “would be the most economical thing to do,” as the Ddstrict pays for the cost of levy elections.

The work study session on the levies will take place at the Educational Service Center at 7 p.m. The public ican attend.

Staff writer Elizabeth Ciepiela: 925-5565, eciepiela@fedwaymirror.com

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