Group has split views on school levy, bond

Citizens for Responsible School Spending announced it will oppose a capital financing levy put forward by the Peninsula School District

Peninsula GatewayApril 18, 2014 

The Citizens for Responsible School Spending is opposing the capital levy, but supporting the bond, sought by the Peninsula School District.

The two measures will be on the August ballot.

The citizens group announced Friday that it opposes Proposition 2, a capital financing levy. Jerry Gibbs, speaking for the group, said it approves of Proposition 1, a capital financing bond.

Shawna De La Rosa, spokesperson for Stand Up For Schools, said she is disappointed to hear of opposition to the levy. Stand Up For Schools is running a Vote Yes Twice campaign that promotes voting for both the levy and the bond.

At issue are two financing measures on the ballot to fund school projects, including a new school in Gig Harbor North and a new building for Artondale Elementary. 

Proposition 2 is a $55.9 million capital financing levy. It’s a companion piece to a $60 million bond that would fund the same projects.

A contingency in the levy states that should the bond pass, capital projects would be taken out of the levy and the levy would be reduced to fund technology updates only.  

“The school board opted to run two propositions because the community feedback was split between support for a bond and a levy. The school board offered this compromise to let the community decide,” De La Rosa said. 

Gibbs said that having dual measures is confusing to voters and could do more harm than good.

“Confused voters vote ‘no,’ ” he said.

In the news release, the citizens group said it had formally told the district it would not support a capital financing levy, but would support a bond. De La Rosa said that a double “yes” vote and the scaling down of the levy should be something the group can support.

“They had stated in a school board meeting they would support a capital bond and a technology levy,” she said. “If both pass, that’s exactly what they will get.”

Gibbs says that the group opposes levies as a capital funding option because it would raise tax rates. He also said that, in his view, a bond is a better option to turn projects quickly.

The citizens group is best known as the main opposition to a capital financing levy put out by the district in November. After that defeat, the Peninsula School District had a series of public meetings.

“They really deserve a tip of the hat for all they did to solicit public opinion,” Gibbs said. He’s happy the school board took the time to hear their side.

Gibbs said that while the group is announcing opposition to one of the funding measures, they aren’t naysayers.

“We’re more than just ‘no,’ ” he said. “We do plan to support the bond measure.”

Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at karen.miller@gateline.com. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_karen.

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