Dear Bainbridge Community,
In case you’re like my family – no longer have children in the BI schools (or maybe never did), have lots of other things to spend $$ on (like college tuition or retirement or health care) –you may be wondering “why should I vote for another school levy, especially when we passed one just last year?” If so, perhaps this information will help inform your decision. It did mine.
First, last year’s levy was for a capital bond to build new buildings. This one is for everyday operational costs (EP&O), and a renewal of the technology levy (i.e., your taxes will not go up because of the Tech Levy).
Second, in case you’re wondering why we should cover operational costs–given state funding–well, here’s the deal: On BI, the state covers only 78 percent of our district’s costs; local tax dollars make up the other 22 percent. The EP&O levy, if passed, will pay for things like remedial reading and math programs, transportation, utilities, and teacher salaries. The Technology Levy will continue to pay for things such as science lab equipment, smart boards, computers and software – tools our students need to know how to use to succeed in, and contribute to, today’s rapidly evolving world. Until the state finds a solution to fund all schools equitably, we will continue to need local dollars to educate our children.
Third, although the BI School District consistently ranks among the top five districts in the state, our state and federal funding levels put us in the bottom third of the state in per pupil funding. In fact, I have been told that our teacher salaries are not competitive with Seattle, Edmonds, Everett, Mercer Island, and recently, Central and South Kitsap School Districts.
Most convincingly, in my experience, our schools are graduating young adults who are globally aware, intellectually curious, artistic, musical, academically disciplined, socially conscious, and most important, fun! Yes, I’ll admit, BI can be a hard place to grow up, and its schools, like all institutions, are not perfect. However, I believe from the bottom of my heart that our teachers, administrators and students are all doing their best. And in my book, that best is pretty darn great.
So, won’t you please join me in supporting our students and their teachers by voting yes to the BI School levies? In my view, it’s just one small way we can demonstrate that we still have faith in a future run by people who understand our complex world.
Jane A. Dunkel