Return your ballots by February 8
January 27, 2022
To The Eagle:
Folks should have received a ballot in the mail this week for a levy to replace an existing educational programs and operations levy. That's it! Nothing else on the ballot. Boring. Boring. Boring. But it's pretty darned important, and I'm writing to encourage people to return those ballots. It's not a slam-dunk that it will pass.
Our schools operate using a combination of state dollars (about 80%) and local school levies (20%). We have the third lowest levy rate in the state at $1.90 per thousand dollars. In fact, the rate will drop to $1.78 per thousand dollars since property values have risen. Compare this rate to the current Longview rate of $3.51 per thousand.
This levy is for operations, not for construction. It has nothing to do with the lawsuit that has been filed. The out-of-town person who prepared the argument against this proposition for the levy says the median total compensation for teachers was $116K. This is to make you think that's the median salary. It's not. Total compensation includes health insurance and other benefits. Benefits make up an average of 32 percent of an employee's compensation according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The out-of-towner also writes that per-pupil expenditures at our school district have increased to almost $16,000 -- more than tuition and books at the University of Washington. Comparing those two figures is like comparing apples with carrots and reflects an incredible lack of understanding of educational funding. But I guess that doesn't matter when you're trying to fan the flames among anti-tax zealots.
They would love nothing more than for the school district to fold and be absorbed by Longview. And I would love nothing more than to see them pay Longview's rate of $3.51 per thousand to fund their schools. The sad thing is that they'd be taking the rest of us along for that very expensive ride.
Get your ballot in by February 8.