Ballots out for Sequim’s two school levy proposals

Ballots are either in the hands of or on their way to voters in the Sequim School District for two school levy proposals — one to bolster basic education needs throughout the district and another for a variety of capital projects at each campus.

Voters will have until Feb. 9 to send in their ballots as the district seeks supplemental funding for basic education services as well as funds for technology and infrastructure projects.

The levy proposals include a four-year, $29.7 million Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy that replaces Sequim’s current local tax and pays for core learning functions not supported in the state’s basic education formula, as well as a four-year, $15 million capital projects levy to address a number of building issues.

Taxpayers in the district would pay between $1.87 ($1.24 for the EP&O levy, $0.63 for the capital projects levy) and $1.89 ($1.26/$0.63) per $1,000 of assessed value starting in 2022, district officials said.

Along with multiple radio interviews to spread the word about the levy proposals, Sequim schools interim superintendent Jane Pryne was busy last week meeting with a number of boards and groups, inducing Clallam County commissioners, board of directors with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, Olympic Medical Center’s board of commissioners, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Council and Sequim Sunrise Rotary.

“I do feel like the word has gotten out about the levies,” she said, noting that community members have also stepped up to help promote the proposals. One example she noted was James Castell, sales and marketing director for Castell Insurance, who shot video to detail needs for the capital project levy (

“We’re getting the word out as much as possible,” Pryne said.

The levy ballots were getting into hands of voters as Sequim students were headed back into classrooms this week, starting with elementary school-aged youths on Jan. 26 and middle- and high school-aged students headed back in February and early March.

“All of those costs are continuing (and) buildings still need to be maintained,” Pryne said. ”Students are still being educated even if they’re not sitting in their seats in classrooms.”

Registered to vote

Voters who need to register, update an address or check on status of a ballot can do so at the Online Voter Registration Portal at or by going to The last day to register is Monday, Feb. 1.

Individuals can register to vote or update one’s registration in person at the Clallam County Auditor’s Office, 223 E. Fourth St. (Suite 1), Port Angeles, between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Ballots must be postmarked or placed in a ballot drop box by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Feb. 9, to be counted. See drop box locations at locations can be viewed at U.S. Postal Service officials recommend those using standard mail should have their ballots sent at least a week prior to election day.

Levy plan details

The EP&O renewal levy, which accounts for about 17 percent of the district’s annual budget, pays for salaries for additional teachers, paraeducators, counselors and nurses, the Highly Capable program, extra-curricular activities (sports, music, drama, field trips, etc.) and other staffing costs.

The capital projects levy would pay for a number of projects across the district, including: a video surveillance system, network system, voice system district-wide; a replacement of roof, heating system, network upgrades and sewer connection at Greywolf Elementary; installation of fire alarm system at Helen Haller Elementary; a replacement of roof, gym floor repair, cafeteria floor replacement at Sequim Middle School; a replacement of heating system, science and career/technical education classroom upgrade and modernization, gym floor replacement and roof replacement among other things at Sequim High School, and replacement of the track and restrooms at the Sequim athletic stadium.

School district officials tried four times to pass a bond issue between 2014-2016, that would have funded a new elementary school. Each failed, with the third bond measure —in February 2016 — fell short by less than one half of a percent of the 60 percent super-majority required.

In 2017 voters approved a three-year, $5.75 million capital project levy that paid for demolition of unused portions of the Sequim Community School and rebuilt the central kitchen facility on the same property.


The district got an endorsement from the Sequim-Dungeness Chamber of Commerce in November, and last week got another two endorsements: the Clallam County commissioners and the Independent Advisory Association.

County commissioner Mark Ozias last week said he expected fellow commissioners to approve a resolution to support both Sequim levies on the ballot along with a Quillayute Valley School District levy proposal on Feb. 9 special election ballots.

“I think that leadership across the county need to highlight and support our school districts,” he said.

“We hear from business owners and people who are trying to recruit professionals … and just from parents in the area (that our schools are) in incredibly poor condition.

“It’s important to me for the community to know I support these levies. They’re important, they’re sound policy for the school and I’d like to see them pass.”

Founded by Donnie Hall and former Clallam County commissioner Jim McEntire, the Independent Advisory Association — a group whose members promote the association as a “noncommercial, independent, volunteer organization which assists citizen candidature for local elected office” — offered an endorsement of the capital projects levy proposal.

“We believe that the pay-as-you-go approach is not only sound fiscal policy — it avoids large debt service fees — it also represents sound philosophy of performance,” the group noted in a press release on Jan. 17.

“This may seem to be a most inauspicious time to ask the taxpayers of the Sequim area for more maintenance and repair money. In reality there is never a good time to ask. However, we respectfully ask the voters of Sequim to consider this: all physical plant entails some maintenance, repair and upgrade costs; it is a far better management approach to pay these costs as they come along rather than wait until a crisis forces a ‘Hail Mary’ bond issue; as responsible citizens we should support a reasonably scoped levy to enable our schools to keep up with their maintenance obligations.”

Hall and McEntire’s group have in recent months backed candidates for office, including Republican state representative candidate Brian Pruiett and current Sequim City Council members William Armacost and Sarah Kincaid.

“We recognize that our endorsement may present difficulties for some of our conservative friends, who have different preferences regarding school tax levels,” the group noted in its Jan. 17 press release. “However, from our perspective, limited government is only one aspect for conservative governance — an important one to be sure. The necessary government spending we do have should be managed in as effective manner as possible.

“We further recognize that the State Legislature has fiscal obligations in funding local schools which it is defaulting on; e.g., timber harvests. While we strongly advocate for all stakeholders to pay their fair share, the current unpleasant reality does not relieve the District and thus local taxpayers of its primary duty to keep up its physical plant.

“In our conservative view, sound management in government should be prized and much sought after. In light of the Sequim School’s successful implementation of the previous Capital Projects Levy, we believe that we should encourage its example to be continued.”

In November, Anji Scalf, Sequim-Dungeness Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, said her organization endorsed both levy proposals because the health of the schools is directly tied to the health of the Sequim business community

“There is a direct correlation between funding these efforts, and uplifting commerce, and therefore the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce wholeheartedly supports the measures and will encourage our community to do the same,” she said.