Lake Stevens residents know the importance of a good education; this is evident every time a school levy or bond election comes up as we consistently vote to support our students and learning.
Well, this week you will be receiving a ballot in your mail regarding the upcoming Maintenance and Operations Levy replacement and the four-year Technology Levy.
Let’s talk about the Maintenance and Operations Levy, or M&O Levy.
Every four years voters get to decide whether or not they will approve a levy whose monies will go towards the operations and maintenance of schools within our district.
Not only have we consistently passed our M&O levies, but we also approved a $65.5 million dollar bond back in 2005 to build Cavelero Mid High, update and remodel Mt. Pilchuck, Hillcrest and Sunnycrest Elementary schools and make facility improvements to Lake Stevens High School, including the demolition and rebuilding of a new football stadium.
In 2002, the community approved a replacement levy which cost taxpayers an estimated $3.22 per thousand dollars of their house’s assessed value. In 2006, property taxpayers once again voted to replace the levy at an estimated rate of $3.14 per thousand dollars of assessed value.
This year we are being asked to approve a four-year replacement levy that will cost taxpayers an estimated $2.87 per thousand dollars of assessed property value.
As you can see this is less than in previous years and let’s face it, most of our homes are being assessed for less than in 2006 or even 2002. Because of this, we will actually be paying less than we have in years past.
If the M&O levy passes, this will bring in between $12.4 and $12.5 million per year for the next four years. Those funds will go towards teacher and instruction support, facility maintenance, athletics and activities and student transportation, to name a few.
The district is also asking voters to pass a technology levy. This levy will bring all Lake Stevens Schools up to standard in every classroom, it will provide staff training for integrated teaching, the replacement of computers over the next five years including updated software and equipment and fiber optic and telecommunication technology.
The cost of this levy will be 36 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value. For a $200,000 home that is $72 per year.
This means that homeowners whose houses have assessed for $200,000 will be paying $646 per year for both levies. In the last four years, that same homeowner was paying $628 per year. The difference is marginal—only $18 or $1.50 per month.
There are so many reasons our students need us to pass this levy.
The best part of updating the technology in schools, is all of the teaching opportunities that this will open up to teachers.
With more elementary and middle school students and practically all high school students on the cutting edge of technology, with their cell phones, ipods and laptops, they are used to living in a fast-paced world where everything is on a screen and at their fingertips.
Teachers will be able to teach students at the technological pace they are used to. This can only help our students be prepared for bigger and brighter futures.
Currently, students who have been attending Cavelero Mid High have updated software and technology because of the age of the school. However, when they move on to Lake Stevens High School, those same students are taking a step backward as far as technology and software goes.
Teachers at the high school aren’t able to open many documents sent to them by students because they don’t have the updated software they need to open them.
Citizens in Snohomish County are begging for a MIT type university here so that students can stay local while continuing their education. Hopefully this will help our students keep the jobs that our state currently has to offer in these fields. We need to prepare our students at a young age—before they get to college.
Both of these levies need our “yes” vote. Our children are truly the future of our community, as both residents and business owners, but they need to have the tools to be competitive at an early age.
Not only that but the world of technology is moving faster than the speed of light it seems, and while we may not always be able to keep up with the latest and greatest, our students should be able to do work from home and expect, at the very least, that their teachers will be able to open their work at school.
Please vote yes to both of these levies and mail in your ballot by February 9.
For more information regarding the levies please visit the Lake Stevens School District’s website at www.lkstevens.wednet.edu