Letters to the Editor — Sequim Gazette, Jan. 18, 2017

Time to pay it forward for schools, students

Let’s face it, we all have to pay taxes — whether it be sales tax, property tax, business tax or income tax. Why wouldn’t you want to vote to give the children of Sequim School District the best education for our future teachers, business leaders, tradesmen and legislators?

The approaching election for Sequim schools is NOT a bond to build a new school. There are two levies. One continues the current level of educational programs called Educational Programs and Operations (EP &O) for four years. Another is called a capital projects levy to modernize the 1979 base kitchen that uses World War II appliances and demolish the 1949 building that was decommissioned in 2012.

Currently, there are 43 classroom teachers and 70-80 classified employees who are supported by the EP &O levy. Other educational programs and operations that are funded by the levy include the district’s extracurricular activities such as the performing arts, athletics and after-school clubs. Also supported by the EP &O levy are maintenance, technology, transportation and district operations.

Schools in Washington must rely on local levies because the state Legislature doesn’t fully fund the cost of basic education (which the constitution says is its “paramount duty”). It also doesn’t pay the cost of building projects or technology needs. Therefore, Washington state students receive inequitable education, depending on their zip code. Some districts have an easier ability to pass levies based on the wealth of their populations. The current Sequim School District levy ranks in the bottom 5 percent of the state, according to Superintendent Gary Neal.

Please show your support for Sequim students by voting for both levies.

Carol Lichten

Sequim

Support Sequim’s school district levies

Last year the school bond was not passed because some folks felt it was too ambitious for the needs of Sequim. There are still long-term needs, but we have shorter-term needs as well, which the two proposed levies address.

The first levy is basically a continuation of our usual renewable Operations levy that we must pass every few years. This is a good value for Sequim since it supports technology, advanced placement classes, music and other fine arts and sports. This allows our students to have the opportunities that other state school districts offer.

The second Capital Projects Levy is a new levy, but it is well thought out and all of the scope of work in this levy will provide a foundation for long-term goals. The old 1949 Community School is in sad shape, unsafe and now vacant. It’s not worth spending money for renovations. This levy will be used to tear it down and provide space on the valuable property it occupies.

This will allow our district to qualify for state matching funds for additional new facilities that can later be built on this property. The part of the school that was built in 1979 will remain and this levy will be used for building repair, modernizing the heating system and upgrading the district’s central kitchen facilities. These are critical projects that were included in last year’s school bond.

The district did a good job in assessing priorities and my wife and I support these levies.

Ray Kawal

Sequim

Senior supports levies

I’m a senior. I don’t have kids in the school system in Sequim. But these children walk down my street every morning to the bus waiting at the top of our hill, headed to the local schools to get an education.

These students are young and they don’t have control or choice over their teachers, their equipment or the facilities where they attend school.

Adults do. We do. We the voters. And it’s our responsibility to see that the young people attending Sequim schools, some 2,700-plus students, get the best education possible — for their future and the future of our county, state and nation.

The Sequim School District has presented two levies for a vote in February. One focuses on essential educational programs and operations; the second relates to a capital project that is way overdue. Renewing the EP&O levy will continued to provide teacher salaries, purchase technical equipment, improve bus transportation and support extra curricular activities. The Capital Projects levy will provide funds to demolish an unsafe 1949 building, so that the land can be repurposed for later new construction, and upgrade the outmoded campus kitchen facility.

Both levies are necessary and without them services will be lost.

It’s time for all of us to do the right thing, to make a commitment and vote for these levies on the Feb. 14 ballot. Without their passage, the quality of education in Sequim can only deteriorate, rather than improve.

Alice McCracken

Sequim

Electoral College is antiquated

The Electoral College negated over 3 million votes in this past presidential election which would have swung the political pendulum had it not been in existence.

Defenders will reject it when their candidate is impacted which lends credence to its abolition regardless of partisanship.

Eight states are winner-take-all electoral votes. This lends additional credence to why only 43 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. Many feel disenfranchised from the political process.

Additionally, electoral votes are not distributed proportionally. Example: South Dakota has a population of approximately 854,000 and receives one electoral vote per 284,000.

California, on the other hand, has a population of approximately 39 million! They receive only one electoral vote for every 709,000 of their population.

One need not be liberal, progressive, conservative or socialist to see the inequities of this antiquated and democratically unfair system.

Roger B. Huntman

Sequim

Editor’s note: Estimates show more than 58 percent of eligible voters went to the polls during the 2016 general election, slightly down from 2012, according to The U.S. Elections Project — though more than 90 million eligible voters did not cast a ballot. — MD

Republicans: Have a heart

Following college, I began my decades-long career as a Teamster Union Business Representative. There was a fella named Reagan occupying the office of the Presidency at the time.

Nearly his first act in office was to fire the nation’s striking air traffic controllers, who refused to return to their overworked and underpaid jobs, when ordered to do so.

That act, on the president’s part, sent a chill through the country’s labor force, felt for decades. A chill which carried the message … “Organize yourselves into a collective force and suffer the pain of being fired.”

Every year I was an agent the nation’s unions lost membership — every single year. In the intervening years, there have been both bright moments of progress and dark days of defeat, but never have I felt so discouraged that I despaired of the future of our great country. Until now.

There presently exists the commonly used phrase, “Drink the Kool-aid,” employed when one feels compelled to disparage the mental process by which a fellow citizen has arrived at what one feels is a poorly reasoned decision.

When I watch C-Span and observe the debate (if one can call it that, given the Republican control of the House and Senate) on repealing the Affordable Care Act, without a plan to replace it, with full knowledge that millions of men, women and children will lose access to healthcare, other than the often-too-late visit to the emergency room, I am in despair.

Certainly the ACA was flawed, but not irretrievably so.

I am reminded of a story told about Lyndon Johnson where he relates the tale of a heart transplant recipient who is given the choice of three hearts. The first is that of a healthy 23-year-old skiing champion, the second the heart of a 20-year-old football athlete and the third choice is the heart of a 79-year-old Republican banker. After a moment’s thought, the patient chooses the banker. When the surgeon asks why, the man says, “I just want to make sure I’m getting a heart that’s never been used.”

I know the Democrats have a least a passing acquaintance with compassion for the less fortunate — I pray the Republicans discover one before their congressional representatives strip away their imperfect, often overpriced, but critically necessary healthcare. Hold the Kool-aid.

Patrick Clark

Sequim

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