Letters to the Editor — Feb. 2, 2017

SEF board supports school levies

The Sequim Education Foundation supports both of the Sequim School District’s levies as this is an opportunity for our community to invest in itself.

We are proud to partner with the Sequim School District and other community organizations to provide enrichment programs, grants for teachers and scholarships for students to continue their education. We understand the importance of the levies in keeping our schools successful.

Please study this issue and join us by voting YES on both ballot measures.

Sequim Education Foundation Board (Jodi Olson, Asta Bonheyo, John Bridge, Missy Church-Smith, Katie Gilles, Matilda Henry, Candyce Jack, Kristen Johnson, Elna Kawal, Shelle Paulbitski, Caitlin Sundin)

Know the facts, support the schools

The Sequim School District has requested that two levies be placed before the citizens of the District for a vote on Election Day, Feb. 14.

Ballots for these levies were placed in the mail on Jan. 25.

Please visit the following website for comprehensive information on the election, voter registration, as well as drop box locations and other details: https://wei.sos.wa.gov/county/clallam/en/elections/pages/default.aspx.

Also, please visit the Sequim School District website at www.sequimschools.wednet.edu. Answers to most of your questions relating to the Sequim School District levies will be found there.

These two levies are important to the continued operation of the district at its current level as well as for updating the district’s central kitchen, which serves meals to all of our schools, and removal of an old structure that is no longer useful.

Education of our youth is an ongoing responsibility of our community. Renewal of facilities is also a part of our community responsibility.

When you vote, please vote “yes” for both levies. They are for the good of our students and for the good of our community.

David Mattingley

Sequim

Support for school district levies is key

Did you know that Sequim School District voters who vote no on the proposed Capital Projects Levy may be giving away money to other school districts?

There has been a great deal of talk about timber revenues and school funding lately, but until Sequim demolishes old facilities, and adopts a bond to build new ones, Sequim School District is not eligible to use the state school construction assistance program.

Sequim’s portion remains in the state-wide “kitty” to fund projects in other communities.

Sequim’s proposed Capital Projects Levy will demolish decrepit and dangerous buildings that were constructed almost 70 years ago and will make room for modern school buildings using state construction fund accounts.

It also will bring the district’s central kitchen facility up to date.

Sequim’s existing Educational Programs and Operations Levy also is expiring and must be renewed to continue basic school functions (teachers, staff, technology) at existing levels.

So please vote for both Sequim School District levies. We need to keep our teachers and school staff focused on basic education and maintain safe and sanitary facilities for our community’s children.

Ann Seiter

Sequim

Set priorities: Look to the schools

An answer to Ann Soule’s question in “Water Reservoir: Cost, benefits” (Sequim Gazette, Jan. 25, page A-9) is: Sequim schools!

What would you do with $25-$35 million for a construction project? “If your project could undertake such lofty goals as ensuring a future for farming, enhancing salmon populations, preventing flooded streets and yards, replenishing drinking water supplies, AND opening a huge new public park …”

As an agricultural water user I certainly understand the value of late season water both for consumptive use and in the river; however, $25-$35 million to Sequim schools should be a priority and would provide greater value to the community.

Such lofty goals as ensuring a future for young people, enhancing the community, preventing homeless kids from our streets and yards, replenishing the vigor and hope of our children — and opening new and improved public schools facilities for the benefit of the entire community can be achieved.

Seems like there was an old adage “Give a child a fish for a day or teach them and give them an occupation that will feed them for a lifetime” (or something like that).

Do we have our priorities correct?

Fred Mitchell

Sequim

Sequim senior group: Back these levies

Sequim Seniors for Sequim Youth strongly recommend that you vote for the two Sequim School District levies on the Feb. 14 ballot.

The EP&O Levy is a short-duration levy which will continue the provision of critically essential services necessary to sustain Sequim School District operations and programs that already have been approved; the Capital Projects Levy will enhance efficiency and safety while simultaneously making the Sequim School District eligible for important matching funding.

These two very important levies are also completely compatible with the range of possible outcomes associated with the eventual resolutions of the current uncertainties concerning the respective roles for the private sector (nonprofit and for-profit) and public sector (federal, state and local) in the provision of Pre-K through G-12 education.

Using publicly available data pertaining to the funding and performance/rankings for all school districts in the United States with enrollments comparable to the enrollment for the Sequim School District, we observe that the Sequim School District is at least Competitive-Very Competitive with respect to Performance/Rankings relative to the Total Available Budget Per Student.

However, the Sequim School District is Significantly Deficient in the Available Total Budget Per Student relative to a Community’s Ability to Support its student enrollment (both current and forecasted).

The two Sequim School District levies on the Feb. 14 ballot are small but essential steps for maintaining and improving the opportunities for current and future Sequim youth.

George &Marcella Cluff

Sequim Seniors for Sequim Youth

Levy plans worthy of ‘yes’ votes

This letter is in support of the two levies put on the Feb. 14 ballot by the Sequim School District.

Voters have opposed the large, comprehensive bond issues that the district has previously proposed, citing concerns about both the bond’s cost and scope.

The upcoming levies are an attempt to address both voter concerns while also meeting the needs of the students that attend Sequim School District.

The capital projects levy is a targeted levy that will be used to upgrade the district’s kitchen, provide needed maintenance services and to demolish the unused area of the Community School building. The work on the Community School building allows the district to be eligible for $4.3 million in state matching funds for new school construction should voters approve such actions in the future.

The Educational Programs and Operations Levy would maintain and continue existing service levels by school staff members. The new levy would replace the current levy which expires in December of 2017.

A few people have wondered whether the ongoing debate in the state Legislature regarding the McCleary Decision would make the levies unnecessary. My understanding is that a decision by the Washington state Legislature in 2017 is not anticipated.

Another thought has been the state money could be used for the construction projects proposed in the capital projects levy. Unfortunately, state funds cannot be used for building construction projects and that fact would not change even if the McCleary Decision impasse is resolved.

Alan Clark

Sequim

Levies are good deals for Sequim, schools

The Sequim School District is running a levy to replace the current four-year educational programs and operations levy that will expire later this year. This is different than a bond measure.

The EP&O levy funds things in schools that the state does not fully fund. The levy pays for curriculum, technology, facilities maintenance, support staff and teachers to reduce class sizes. The present levy amounts 22 percent of the district’s total budget.

On the same ballot as the EP&O levy is a capital projects levy. Again, this is different than a bond measure. This levy would allow the district to demolish the unsafe and unusable portion of the nearly 70-year-old Sequim Community School building (not cost effective to renovate or remodel).

This would allow the district to qualify for $4.3 million in state matching funds for future construction at a later date.

It would also fund a critically needed remodel of the district’s antiquated central kitchen. Aside from being equipped with aging World War II surplus equipment, the district is also forced to rent freezer space from a local business to keep an adequate supply of food on hand.

The total cost of both levies is significantly lower than just the EP&O levy of our neighbor district Port Angeles. In fact, the local levy rates in Sequim are in the lowest 5 percent in the state.

Please join me in voting yes to continue funding our local education programs and to make critical infrastructure upgrades.

Our students deserve this support from our community.

Eric Danielson

Sequim

Pass levy, save jobs

I’m a Sequim High School senior and when I walk into class I most certainly enjoy having heat and lights. However if the Feb. 14 levies are not passed, those things will come with a cost, the cost of 42 staff members.

We severely need this levy to pass for multiple reasons such as having to use outdated kitchen appliances, used since World War II. Another reason is for demolishing and rebuilding the unusable 1949 community school. The money gained will help pay for basic necessities like lights and heat as well as prevent those 42 people from losing their jobs.

In the end the levy will bring good to everyone, students get to learn in a nice comfortable environment, hardworking teachers keep their jobs and you get to help improve our community and the futures of students.

Andres Avila

Sequim

Students are no ‘pawns’ in this fight

I take issue with John Sartori’s reasoning in his letter to the editor urging us to vote no on the school EP&O levy “to motivate the Legislature” (Letters to the Editor, Sequim Gazette, Jan. 25, page A-10)

The “Legislature” can easily take the failure of school levies as evidence that the voters are not willing to support school funding.

He fails to take into account that the EP&O levies primarily cover expenses that have not historically been regarded as “basic education,” such as building maintenance and extra-curricular programs like sports.

Local taxpayers have been routinely covering these costs through replacement levies.

He lobbies for a two-year rather than four-year levy, failing to note that the subject levy replaces, at a lower tax rate, the four-year levy passed in 2013. A four-year levy saves the taxpayers the cost of another election (yes, the School District does have to pay the cost of running the election, which is not trivial.)

His plan would have us pay for three elections instead of one for four years.

This levy election is not about the Legislature. It is about educating our children and enhancing their educational experience in our community. We all should be pressuring the legislators to do their job of funding basic education; but we should do it directly and unambiguously, not by using these children as pawns.

Ted Lund

Sequim

Learning from history

Thank you to Peninsula College and Studium Generale for bringing Clarence Moriwaki and the wisdom gained from the Japanese-American Exclusion Executive Order, regarding the internment of Japanese during World War II (now a National Historic Site on Bainbridge Island).

His profound message of “History, Honor, Healing and Hope” is timely for showing the injustices committed out of fear of a targeted group of American citizens.

Mr. Moriwaki’s presentation was a stark reminder of how fear tactics again have fueled a resurgence of religious, racial and “other” disrespect and hatred.

We must not stand by idly and let history repeat these injustices, rather have the courage to speak out against such tactics at every level of our society so that fear mongering and prejudice don’t destroy our national conscience.

Linda Mellon

Sequim

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