Out of My Mind, Feb. 2, 2012

Ballots are out, time to vote for our kids

Both Oroville and Tonasket School Districts are going before the voters asking them to replace the two-year Maintenance and Operations Levies that are running out this year. The new two-year M&Os, which will be collected in the years 2013 and 2014, are necessary to continue to provide our school kids with an education they can use to go on to find jobs, pursue higher education opportunities and to better the communities in which they live. An excellent education prepares our students to be good citizens and to become productive members of society.

Bearing in mind the state of the economy, our school boards did not ask for major increases in local funding, but merely to continue the support for our school districts that we have been so willing to give in the past. This is especially hard when the state has continuously cut back on basic education funding and in Tonasket’s case, cutting Levy Equalization funds — but it is necessary.

Our children deserve the best education we can give them and the same opportunities that other children in the state and nation enjoy. Things like advances in technology have helped to close the gaps between rural and suburban schools and Tonasket and Oroville are striving to give their students a fighting chance to go on to college or vocational schools and to successfully enter a changing job market.

Unfortunately the state has shirked its primary constitutional duty and has passed more and more of the cost of basic education off to the districts. Tonasket and Oroville have cut their budgets to the bone and there’s little more left to trim. The levy helps to keep in place programs that our kids need, it buys new technology and textbooks and it also allows the districts to maintain their buildings so that the students and their taxpaying supporters get the most out of them before they need to be remodeled or replaced. Levies also pay for extracurriculars like sports and Knowledge Bowl that help to make sure our kids grow up to be well-rounded individuals.

By passing the M&O Levy we get to exercise our local control, a control we don’t enjoy at the state or federal level. We have local school boards with people we know, people we have elected sitting on them. They, with input from the public and staff, decide where our levy money is best spent — not Olympia or Washington, D.C. Without much trouble we can attend school board meetings and make our needs heard and be actually listened to — That’s not so easy when dealing with the state or federal governments.

When we were in school our parents and grandparents, neighbors and others supported our public education, now it’s time to give back by supporting the current generation. Vote yes for our North County schools and make sure your ballot is postmarked by Tuesday, Feb. 14.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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