Essential Levy Dollars
On February 14, Bainbridge Island registered voters will vote on two renewal levies to support Bainbridge Island public schools: the Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) Levy and the Technology Levy. Here are some important considerations regarding these renewal levies.
- Bonds Buy Bricks, Levies Are for Learning
The first thing to understand about a levy is how it differs from a bond, both of which are voter-approved initiatives.
School levies, such as the two on the February ballot, facilitate the education of our students by funding essential components of our schools’ budget, including teacher salaries, programs to meet student instructional needs such as Special Education, technology integration into our district’s curriculum, classroom technology to support instruction, and utilities such as power and water. Levy dollars are part of the regular funding that helps ensures our local schools are able to provide a high-quality education.
School bonds, also important to the health of the school district and our community, fund specific projects like construction of new buildings – such as what was approved by voters in February 2016 to pay for a new Blakely Elementary School and BHS 100 Building. Simply put, bonds buy the physical infrastructure that provides space for education to take place.
The Bainbridge Island School District cannot prepare its students for success in the 21st century global workforce without these critical pieces in place.
- Washington state does not fully fund education
School districts in Washington rely on local levy dollars to pay for essential services because the state of Washington is not meeting its constitutional obligation to amply fund a uniform system of education (McCleary v. State of Washington).
While the court has ordered the Legislature to fully fund education, school districts must plan their budgets as if that will not happen. Think of the continued use of levies as an insurance policy in case the state does not act to comply with the McClearly decision. If the state of Washington fulfills its obligation to fund education, then school districts would be limited on future levies, and our local levy would be significantly decreased.
Only by voting YES do we ensure BISD has sufficient funds to sustain our high level of education, regardless of the state’s actions (or inaction).
- Attract & Retain Professionals
Education is a people-oriented business. If asked to recall what contributed to their own educational success, most people will inevitably cite particular teachers who made a difference. BISD is known for having a high-quality teaching staff that inspires its students to achieve greatness, and 84% of BISD’s budget covers salaries for its workforce.
Our nation is facing a crisis in its ability to hire qualified teachers for classroom positions. BISD has to compete with local districts to attract the top talent to hire and develop into the next generation of great teachers. For BISD to be able to attract the best teachers, it must be able to offer competitive salaries and also have strong curriculum and technology plans in place.
By voting YES on these two levy renewals, we help ensure BISD continues its legacy of putting the best teachers in front of its students and maintains its reputation of greatness.