News

Bentley touts levy to chamber

When it comes time for voters to say yea or nay to Sequim School District's levy proposal, superintendent Bill Bentley hopes to have the support of local business owners.

"I think business folks are accustomed to analyzing things to see what the value is," Bentley said, moments after talking with Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce members Tuesday, Dec. 8, at their weekly meeting at Pioneer Memorial Park.

"Schools can be a primary reason to come to a community. I think people understand that," he said.

Bentley and school district business manager Brian Lewis detailed Sequim's newest maintenance and operations levy proposal, a three-year, $14.7 million plan to maintain programs and restore others the district has cut in recent years.



On ballot Feb. 9

Voters will decide its fate in a special election Feb. 9, 2010. The proposal would generate $4.05 million in 2011, $4.9 million in 2012 and $5.78 million in 2013 to reduce class sizes, buy supplies, upgrade curriculum and refurbish facilities.

Bentley said his presentation to the chamber wasn't all about dollars.

"It's not just about numbers; it's about our kids," Bentley said, highlighting academic, artistic and athletic achievements by Sequim School District's 2,900-plus students, along with highlights of staffers' achievements.

He reminded chamber members how much of a presence Sequim schools are in this community to business members, with more than 350 employees making up 5 percent of the local work force.



Outside $s uncertain

With enrollment dipping and uncertain funding from the state and federal governments, local taxpayers must shoulder more of a burden, Bentley said earlier this year.

"We'd like to continue things we're doing but we'd also like to see programs restored and see class sizes reduced," Bentley said.

The second year of the levy proposal sees collections jump to compensate for expected shortfalls in state and federal dollars in 2011. Bentley said he and staffers aren't sure if either Initiative 728 (state) or stimulus (federal) dollars will continue into 2011.



Reach Michael Dashiell at miked@sequimgazette.com.



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