The people of the Port Townsend area have done a lot of great things in the past decade to make this a better community. At the top of that list was voting to build a state-of-the-art elementary school, Salish Coast, to give our youngest students the best place to begin their public education.
During that same time, the state Legislature was compelled by the state Supreme Court to pump an extra $5 billion into schools — a significant portion of which has gone into boosting the pay of underpaid teachers and classified staff, including the Port Townsend School District.
Due to the way the Legislature “fixed” the McCleary mandate of providing ample funding for basic education, property owners in Port Townsend saw an increase in the state portion of their property taxes last year.
And yet, state-funded basic education — which includes fair pay for staff — remains a goal, not fully realized.
Now, the Port Townsend School District is asking local voters to approve both an education levy and a capital levy on the special election ballot Feb. 12.
Some voters are scratching their heads, thinking local levies were a thing of the past. Not so. Local levy dollars will sustain our schools’ exceptionally nutritious farm-to-table meals program, maritime-based education that gets kids out of the classrooms, special education, sports and other activities, and our schools’ arts and music programs. The capital levy will be used to help finish the landscaping for Salish Coast, re-roof older buildings and complete ADA access for disabled students at our high school.
The total dollar amount of both levies matches the current levy, which is set to expire later this year. That means taxpayers won’t see an increase in local school taxes. They’ll continue to pay what they’re paying today, about $1.53 per $1,000 in assessed property value.
It’s not what we thought would come out of McCleary. But I hope district residents will join me and step forward on passing these levies. We should always vote for schools.