Opinion

Flip your ballot and vote yes for schools

By AUDREY GERMANIS, TOM PIERSON and SAM RENGSTORFF, For The Mirror

On Feb. 19, the Federal Way School District is running a four-year educational programs and operations (EP&O) levy that will replace the current levy, which is due to expire.

Funds from this levy are an integral part of the Federal Way School District and approval will allow the district to continue school programs and services at their current level. This particular levy pays for 20 percent of all regular instruction in Federal Way schools. These levies bridge the gap between what the state funds and the actual cost of meeting the educational needs of our students. This EP&O levy enables our district to pay for teaching staff not included in state allocations, additional instructional programs, textbooks, athletics and extracurricular activities, technology, security and transportation.

Because of our school district’s responsible fiscal management, this replacement levy will maintain the current level of services without increasing the tax rate. In fact, the tax rate for schools in Federal Way has actually declined since 1996, as the district has kept its promises to our community. Federal Way is also number one among all the districts in King County in the percent of budget spent on teaching and teaching support. Moreover, homeowners in Federal Way pay the least amount of tax per student as compared with neighboring districts.

It is important to understand that school districts differ from other taxing agencies in that they can simply request a set dollar amount in a levy proposal. They don’t request a rate, but they do attempt to provide an estimated tax rate so voters can determine their share of the cost. This levy will cost approximately $2.74 per $1,000 of assessed valuation each year beginning in 2009 and continuing through 2012.

The current EP&O levy was estimated at a rate of $2.87 but came in lower at $2.83 per $1,000.

Keep in mind some of the superb programs available in Federal Way as a result of the funding provided by these levies:

• School resource officers

• AVID – A college prep program at each of our secondary schools

• The K-8 program at Woodmont Elementary School

• AmeriCorps

• AFJROTC at Federal Way and Todd Beamer high schools

• Cambridge Program at Federal Way High

• International Baccalaureate at Thomas Jefferson High

• Advanced Placement classes

• Textbook adoptions

It is also important to remember that even though the district recently won a lawsuit against the state, funding from any action the Legislature may take in response could take years to reach our students.

Bottom line: Our children need these funds now to continue to grow and prosper in a positive and progressive learning environment. Your yes vote ensures this will happen, and the best part is that it won’t increase your tax rate to accomplish.

Be sure to turn your ballot over and vote yes for schools on Feb. 19.

Audrey Germanis is president of Citizens for Federal Way Schools. Tom Pierson is CEO of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce. Sam Rengstorff is president of the Federal Way PTSA Council.

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