JANUARY 20, 1997
Education funding a priority
by Jean Fowler, member, Northshore School Board and Northshore Coalition
The 55th Legislature is now in session. Education is high on their list of priorities. It is a topic of interest to all of us--parents, non-parents, employers, and community members.
The Northshore Coalition, a group comprised of school board members, parents, business representatives, and community members, is working together to support legislation that will fully fund basic education. Our agenda and list of priorities have been shared with our local legislators.
Historically, state funding for education has been erratic, making it difficult for school districts to plan. Successful businesses can strategize and prioritize when they accurately project their revenue. Families can plan major purchases when they know their cash flow. School districts are no different.
The Northshore District receives about 75 percent of its annual funding from the state. Every two years, the legislature meets to determine our financial fate. Some times it requires districts to begin expensive but unfounded programs, i.e. fingerprinting of employees. Sometimes there is a need in a community for additional programs which the state does not define as basic education, i.e. language arts specialists who provide staff training as well as enrichment and remediation to elementary students.
The Northshore community has a long history of supporting its educational programs and is proud of its student successes. We are thankful for the consistent passage of the local maintenance and operation levy lid. The current lid allows our district to collect approximately $21.3 million in its levy.
Legislative action, taken in the 1995 season, reduced the amount of levy capacity for all school districts; this action will result in a loss in excess of $3 million in local levy revenue beginning in 1998.
To help the Northshore School District plan effectively, we must stabilize our income. To accomplish this, we need the legislature's help. We ask them to:
The greater the financial stability, the better the planning and the more consistent the educational program. Education is a job for everyone. Let's work together to strengthen our community through excellence in education.
- Return to the original levy capacity.
- Allow the school district to conduct levy elections every four years instead of every two years.
- Change the percentage of vote needed for levy passage from 60 percent to a simple majority.