Vote smart. Vote for schools

By Paul Archipley | Jan 28, 2010

Just as economists argue the road to recovery is “jobs, jobs, jobs!” educators know the road to good jobs is “education, education, education!”

In this current downturn now being called the Great Recession, many of the unemployed are returning to school to retrain for the jobs of the future.

There is, perhaps, no more shortsighted action by government or its citizens during a recession than to cut education funding. In fact, that’s precisely the time to increase investment in our schools. The global economy requires that we prepare our children to compete at the highest levels.

And that’s why we’re emphatically endorsing approval of two levies on the Feb. 9 ballot for the Mukilteo School District.

One, the Maintenance and Operations Levy, is a recurring levy that must be approved by voters every four years. Without it, the school district would have to cut its budget by nearly a fifth.

That would mean an end to many, if not all, extracurricular activities, including sports, music and drama programs. Class sizes would increase. Teaching assistants would be eliminated. Janitorial and maintenance services would be drastically reduced. Buses would be grounded.

The quality of our children’s education would substantially decline during the school day, and the elimination of after-school activities would put them on the streets with too few outlets. Constructive, character-building endeavors would be replaced with dangerous, trouble-making scenarios.

A “yes” vote is merely a continuation of an existing tax. Mukilteo voters have always supported the M&O levy at renewal time. We hope they’ll continue to do so this Feb. 9.

In addition, the school district is asking us to approve a six-year Capital Projects Levy, which would raise $20 million for repairs of our aging facilities.

Most homeowners would see an increase in their property taxes of between $10 and $15 per month.

The board of education members know that asking for a tax increase in this economy is asking a lot. They live here, too.

But deferring needed repairs now would guarantee much higher costs later as facilities further deteriorate. It has been nearly 10 years since voters last OK’d a construction bond, so major repairs such as roofs and hvac systems have been repeatedly delayed, and now some of those systems are failing.

Further delay could result in catastrophic failures, even to the point of putting our children in harm’s way. That’s a scenario no one wants.

Approving tax increases in the best of times can be controversial. The district had asked for a much more ambitious $139 million bond measure in 2008 that failed to garner a required 60 percent approval.

This levy is a bare-bones proposal aimed at addressing only the most pressing needs. A simple majority is needed for approval.

Although the property tax rate for schools would go up temporarily, in 2012 it actually would begin a steady decline.

Building a better future for our community requires some sacrifice. Even voters whose children are out of school or who don’t have children benefit when their community is better educated.

Vote smart. Vote yes on both levies.

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