Unless you’ve been living blissfully under a rock, odds are you’re fully aware of the rising tensions all around us. There may be ongoing debate about whether global warming is man-made, but the increased temperature under our collective collars is undoubtedly of our own doing.
On some level, one can certainly sympathize with the frustration felt by many. The last 20 months have left a lot of us feeling powerless and adrift in an endless sea of recommendations, guidelines, requirements, mandates and following the science (or not.)
Anger and helplessness often walk hand-in-hand and, increasingly, people seem to be acting out on these feelings by engaging in protests, large and small.
It might be understandable then, that upon seeing a replacement levy for the Battle Ground school district on the ballot, your gut reaction is to fill in the box for “no.” A rare chance to hit a publicly-funded institution where it hurts.
Allow me to be blunt: The levy for your local school district is not a place to act upon your frustration at the government, however righteous your indignation.
It’s worth a moment to understand what is truly at stake should the local levy fail to pass in November. Even if the district were able to get one approved next year, they would receive no local funding until the second half of 2023. That would result in budget reductions topping $30 million.
Tell me, what would you need to give up to cut your own budget by 14% and still put food on the table and a roof over your head?
Much of the levy is also tied up in state-mandated programs, such as special education, meaning cuts to other programs and staffing would go deeper than just that $30 million.
The result would be larger class sizes, fewer programs for students, and deferred maintenance on buildings leading to higher costs down the road. The shadow of a double levy failure is already making it difficult to find and retain talented teachers and administrators. Why go work for a district that might just have to cut you in a few months?
A local levy represents the community’s chance to have a say in what a school district’s priorities should be. If all funding came from the state, the state would also dictate every district’s staffing levels and programming, leaving no room for local autonomy.
If you’re angry and feeling powerless, educate yourself on the issues and vote for people who’ll represent you in local, state and federal offices, or maybe run yourself. Show up for meetings and let your voice be heard. But this levy is not the leverage you seek. A failure to pass it would be a blow to our local schools and a setback for the thriving community we all deserve.
Vote yes on the Battle Ground Public Schools replacement levy on Nov. 2.
Chris Brown, Battle Ground
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