Daily News editorial

It is for the kids.

This is just one of many statements made by representatives of the Longview School District who visited with TDN earlier this week regarding the two levies the district is asking voters to approve on Feb. 13.

What voters need to understand is these levies would replace levies expiring at the end of the year. The levies will not generate new taxes on residents. The levies simply would allow the school district to continue offering what it provides now.

Don’t let what happened in November with the school bond skew your thinking on the importance of these levies passing.

Members of the TDN editorial board wholeheartedly support the levies and urge Longview residents to vote yes.

The Operations and Educational Programs levy would raise $8.1 million in 2019 and $9.1 million in 2020. The Capital Projects and Technology levy would raise approximately $3 million annually from 2019 to 2022.

Because of the Washington state Legislature’s McCleary ruling, school district taxes will start to drop beginning in 2019 when the cost of basic education shifts from local school districts to the state.

The O&EP levy for 2019 and 2020 would help the district “bridge the gap” between what the state provides the district through the state levy and what it actually costs to fund the schools, LSD superintendent Dr. Dan Zorn told TDN.

The levy would help the district maintain essential student programs and services beyond what is paid for by the state. The money would provide for special education teachers who address students’ unique learning needs, “regular” education teachers who provide instruction to students, teacher aides and paraprofessional educators who help students learn, counselors who assist students with their social and emotional needs, and custodians who keep the buildings clean and safe.

The levy money also would pay for staff training; coaches; and extracurricular activities such as band, clubs and athletics. The district’s entire athletic program, clubs and bands are funded by levy money, though the school district also has a “pay to play” program where students interested in participating in extracurricular activities pay additional fees. In addition, the district keeps a safety net to help pay some of the fees for students who wouldn’t be able to participate in the activities because they couldn’t afford them.

TDN editorial board members remember the days when there were no fees to participate in these activities. Clearly, those days are long gone.

Basically, the money from the levies would “keep the lights on” in the schools so students can be provided a proper education in a safe and healthy environment.

If the OE&P levy fails, Dr. Zorn said the district would lose enough money to pay for approximately 100 teachers or about one out of every five district employees.

The Capital Projects and Technology levy would provide more money for safety and security upgrades, electricity and lighting upgrades, maintenance and upgrades for athletic fields, and money for improving and maintaining the grounds at the district’s schools. It also would provide money for replacing roofs, fixing or replacing boilers and repairing concrete.

In the November bond that was narrowly turned down, one of the projects the money would have paid for was to replace three schools.

When we asked if any of the roofs on those schools targeted for replacement needed repairs, Longview School Board president C.J. Nickerson said it could be a possibility. And, he was adamant if one of those schools’ roofs needed to be replaced, the district should fix the issue to keep the children dry and safe.

We couldn’t agree more.

The LSD cannot put off necessary repairs to buildings to keep our children safe in the district’s schools.

The Capital Projects and Technology levy also would allow the school district to replace classroom computers and educational technology on a school-by-school basis, and replace worn out school intercom systems.

Teachers, advisers, counselors, paraprofessional educators and coaches play an important role in the development of young minds. The district needs to be able to keep these people on staff.

A study by the University of California Irvine discovered students who regularly participated in after-school activities outperformed their peers in academics. These students also showed improvements in behavior and work habits.

Extracurricular activities also help build children learn about teamwork, helps them build self-esteem and teaches them how to set goals.

We were impressed with the school district’s presentation.

We need to support our schools and we urge Longview residents to cast a yes vote on the two levies.

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