Our group must question the wisdom of the Peninsula School District’s board of directors, which is proposing to levy another $50 million in new taxes after we recently approved an $80 million tax levy in 2012.
Why were other ideas to solve overcrowding never considered?
We vigorously support the education of our children, but don’t forget this is a new tax levy on top of the existing levy and bond you are presently paying for; a new taxing precedent for our district.
Our group must ask the school board to not forget there are other options to relieve overcrowding and, considering the state of the economy, now is a bad time to increase our property taxes this much.
Tax increases must be the last option, not the first. To ask for $50 million in new taxes and tell the public they will develop the plans after they get the money doesn’t build public support for their plan.
Our district’s schools are overall rated a “C” by Washington State. Our teachers and principals work hard, but when you consider that $47 million of the $50 million in new taxes would go to brick and turf and not into the classrooms to improve learning, you must question this plan.
Learning outcomes are paramount. Is overcrowding a problem for learning outcomes? Apparently not, since the only school in the district rated “Exemplary” by Washington State is the most overcrowded, Purdy Elementary. That proves it’s what goes on inside the building with parents, teachers, volunteers and staff that improve learning, not the building.
Alternatives and options have been suggested to the school board, but such ideas fell on deaf ears. Re-districting could solve the problem to some extent. Sure, some parents will be inconvenienced, but the school district doesn’t seem to mind inconveniencing parents with schedules of late starts and early dismissals when parents ask for more classroom time, not less.
Two years ago, a bond measure didn’t include a new school building or replacement of another, only a renovation. Now they want to tear down Artondale and build another school at Gig Harbor North?
Let’s be honest: This measure is being run as a levy because of the lower voter-approval threshold required to increase property taxes. Levies are customarily dedicated to ongoing operations, and bonds are normally dedicated toward capital improvements and at much lower tax rates.
Bonds require 60 percent voter approval to pass, and the levy proposal requires only 50 percent approval. And we can’t forget the ripple effects caused to local small business when they pass on the cost of this tax hike to consumers. You will pay twice.
This district overwhelmingly voted for an initiative to require a legislative two-thirds-majority approval before increasing taxes. This levy goes against that philosophy. Voters must ask themselves if they want higher property taxes that will result from the levy process being used to fund capital building projects.
Wording in the resolution says the school district can use its discretion to not spend levy proceeds on construction and remodeling improvements if the original intent “is deemed impractical.” The resolution doesn’t guarantee new schools will be built. We need a stronger-worded resolution before we increase taxes another $50 million.
Vote “no” and ask the school board to go back to the drawing board for a better plan. We need the school board to better engage the community and come up with a proposal that the community will support.Ken Manning and Jerry Gibbs represent Citizens for Responsible School Spending.