Guest Column: Now is the time to support our schools

By now our entire community will have received ballots for the Feb. 8 election for the Central Kitsap School District’s capital projects levy. This initiative has my strongest support.

First of all, I believe we share a common understanding of the critical importance good education has not only for our children, but for our entire community, as well. The district is repeatedly recognized as one of the most exemplary school districts in the state — an accomplishment that has been realized due to the strong community support. We have all heard people say they choose to live here because of the quality of our schools. This demonstrates the positive impact schools have on economic vitality and livability of our communities.

To keep the district a leader, we need several elements. Effective, dedicated teachers and solid backing by parents comes immediately to mind as fundamental components. But so are properly maintained and safe facilities. These elements go hand-in-hand. We cannot maintain support for classroom learning if vital resources are being diverted to pay for leaking roofs, HVAC systems — which are inefficient and cost more to operate than modern equipment — or rusted pipes which are breaking. Many facilities in our community are in need of critical improvements and now is the time we must determine our community priorities.

For years, the water available at Jackson Park Ele-mentary School has been undrinkable. This should not be acceptable to our community.

The failed plumbing at Jackson Park is one example of the significant capital needs throughout the district which has a negative impact on classroom learning. This levy will fund critical improvements to all of our schools that will save taxpayers money by replacing aging equipment with more cost-efficient systems and ensure that the physical structure of our classrooms will not be a distraction to students and teachers.

This capital projects levy will replace the 1992 construction bond that will be paid in full in 2011. This five-year levy enables the district to address critical facility issues that, if ignored, will continue to strain operating resources that are needed in the classroom and will cost taxpayers more money in the long run. By approving this measure, we are also benefitting from federal and state support.

While local dollars from this levy will provide $58 million for improvements, these other matching funds will total $31 million. If this levy is not approved, those matching funds will not be available and our community will have to absorb the full cost of these critically needed improvements. It is paramount we take advantage of these matching resources.

Your “yes” vote will be important to preserve our reputation as one of the best school districts and communities in the state. I strongly encourage you to support our schools which serve as the identity for our community. Please make sure to postmark your ballot by Feb. 8.

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