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Citizens' group gears up for levy campaign

People who have banded together to promote the Central Kitsap School District’s March replacement levy face a host of challenges. But Nick Nelson, coordinator of Central Kitsap Citizens for Quality Education (CKCQE), is cautiously optimistic.

“We are going to start hitting it hard Feb. 6, after the charter vote,” said Nelson, medical director for the Animal Hospital of Central Kitsap. “We are getting together with Rotary clubs and the Chamber of Commerce and we are going to be making presentations in a three-person team (composed of) a community leader, a student and an administrator.”

The measure would maintain the current tax levied to support local schools — $2.83 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The levy would run four years if it is approved by 60 percent of those casting ballots in the March 12 election.

Passing a levy during an economic recession is no small challenge, Nelson said.

“America is in a recession and we are asking for money,” Nelson said. “But we aren’t increasing anything. It is a continued levy and we are asking for the same amount that has been supported in the past.”

Another challenge will be driving home the message that the state doesn’t fund basic education, said Bert Cole, operations manager at Subase Bangor’s Strategic Weapons Facility-Pacific and a member of CKCQE.

There is a large transitory population here due to the Navy, and people might not understand what the levy means to the district. The state provides about 75 percent of the funds for education, Cole said, and without a levy the district can’t support quality education.

“In other places, levies are for unusual things like a new gym,” Cole said, “but in Washington you need to pass local levies just to sustain a normal operating budget.”

Levy dollars comprise 10.2 percent of the Central Kitsap School District budget — presently $10 million — but $21 million is tied up in its passage, according to information provided by Central Kitsap School District.

Each local levy dollar qualifies CKSD for $1.10 in additional state and federal funds. The levy helps fund several programs, including student activities, transportation, custodians and security officers.

Want to help?

Central Kitsap Citizens for Quality Education (CKCQE) is seeking volunteers for the spring levy campaign.

“Anyone who wants to give up some time, talent or treasure — we would appreciate that,” said Nick Nelson, CKCQE coordinator.

Volunteers are needed for doorbelling, to work telephones and for fund-raising efforts. Donations also are appreciated, Nelson said.

For more information, call Nelson at 692-6162 or visit www.cklevy.org.

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