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January 26, 1998

Local News

Northshore levies, bond up for vote

  by Andrew Walgamott
   Voters in the Northshore School District will decide next Tuesday whether or not to approve two levies and a bond that would collect $189.8 million over four years beginning in 1999. The district hopes to pass three four-year measures that include a $106.6 million Maintenance and Operations Levy, an $8 million Technology Levy and a $75.2 million Capital Projects Bond. Money would go to build new classrooms, modernize schools, provide instructional support and maintain classroom computers. The measures replace levies and a bond that run out at the end of 1998.
   The three propositions break down like this; the district says almost 75 percent of the M&O levy will go for teaching and instructional support. About 10 percent would fund after-school programs such as music, drama, sports and academic teams. The levy bridges an approximately 20 percent funding gap between state allocations and programs the district provides. The capital projects bond would pay for modernizations to Cottage Lake, Maywood Hills and Kenmore elementaries, add more elementary classrooms and improve Woodinville High and Pop Keeney ballfields. The technology levy would maintain funding for computer work stations in classrooms as well as expand Internet and Multimedia access.
   If all are approved, property taxes the district collects would remain at $5.98 per $1,000 of assessed value, the same rate the district has collected since 1995. That's $598 for a $100,000 home, $1,196 for a $200,000 home and $1,794 for a $300,000 home.
   But Ron Braun, 38-month resident of the district, wants Northshore to pledge test score improvements before any money is collected. "We all care about one thing and that's our kids," the father of four daughters said last week. "The problem is how to get there. If [the district] can't commit to improving test scores....maybe we should cut their spending. That way they will know we're serious." But district communications spokesperson, Pamela Steele, says his allegations of dismal test scores are "flat out wrong." Braun, who ran for a Woodinville Water District seat and lost in the primaries, said he would be talking to voters and speaking at forums to get his message out. His arguments can be seen on page 6 under opinions.
   Steele said that historically Northshore had supported schools. "People vote for what they believe in," she said. While voters may support schools, the question is whether enough will turn out to validate the levies and bond. For the levies to pass, two conditions must be met, according to Betty Sullivan, a King County Elections technician. First, levies need 60 percent approval to validate. Second, there must be a minimum of 7,932 "yes" votes. For the bond to pass, at least 13,220 residents must turn out, with at least 7,932 (60 percent) voting yes. At least 11,064 absentee ballots had been mailed to Northshore voters as of last Tuesday, according to another elections technician.