Out of My Mind, Feb. 23, 2012

Voters made right choice supporting levies

Voters all over the region made the right choice when they voted yes to approve the two-year Maintenance and Operations Levies in our school districts.
Oroville and Tonasket voters came through with supermajority support, even though the issues only required 50 percent approval. This is a wise investment in the future of our school-aged children and of our communities. These kids will one day be able to make a valuable contribution to our communities and wherever they decide to live. We should be proud of ourselves for pulling together and offering this kind of support, especially in these less than stellar economic times.
The levies help to pay for all the programs and activities the state doesn’t – like extracurriculars such as sports, Knowledge Bowl and Future Business Leaders of America. It helps to bring programs and technology to rural schools like ours in Tonasket and Oroville so that they can keep up with schools in more urban areas. The levies do so much to fill in where the state has shirked its constitutionally-mandate duty to provide even the most basic of education. Without the levy, students in poorer, more rural environments might lag behind and our kids would not be able to compete in an ever-tightening job market.
What the state has done by cutting back on funds has robbed our children of the educational opportunities they deserve. No one can force our kids to take full advantage of our schools, but we owe them the chance for all the opportunities we can reasonably provide and if the state won’t do it, the levy helps to fill in those gaps.
The state Supreme Court ruled the state must fulfill its mandate to provide basic education. Only time will tell whether the legislature takes this ruling seriously and begins fully meeting the basic requirements.
Local support of the levies was fantastic, we would, however, like to address something heard each levy election time. And that’s the theory that only property owners bear the burden of educating our children. This really is far from the truth. While property owners directly pay taxes – everyone that rents a home or apartment, buys groceries, a meal or any other goods within the boundaries of a school district supports the district through indirect means. When property taxes go up most business people pass those increases on to the people they rent to or sell to. No one really escapes paying their share.
That’s why it is so important that our school boards do their best to keep the amount we pay per thousand as low as possible – to not ask for any more than needed and keep taxes from going up – whether we own property or not. So far the school boards in Oroville and Tonasket have been able to keep their promises by asking passage of levies that are the same or only slightly higher than those they replace.