Marysville schools' supplemental levy voted down

MARYSVILLE — The primary election day of Aug. 17 proved to be bad news for proposed school district levies throughout the state, but especially so in Marysville, where voters were asked for a property tax increase to fund a supplemental levy after the state legislature expanded the school district's levy authority by 4 percent.

As of 8:03 p.m. Aug. 17, 60.06 percent of the 7,363 ballots counted voted no on the Marysville School District's four-year levy, which would have added an estimated levy rate of 20 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation each year to provide $750,000 for the 2010-11 school year and $1.5 million for each of the three subsequent school years. The levy only required a simple majority of 50 percent plus one vote to pass.

MSD Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland admitted that the current economic climate made it more challenging to present such proposals to the public. Don Whitfield, who co-chaired the Citizens for Marysville Schools campaign committee with Pete Lundberg, agreed with this assessment.

"These are difficult times for everyone and Washington voters clearly have concerns about tax issues," Nyland said. "It just so happens that those tax issues tend to focus on our schools. Although districts with less property wealth are likely to vote for such propositions in lower percentages, I was still hopeful about our prospects. I figured the Northshore School District's levy would get 60-70 percent and ours would get closer to 50 percent, but obviously that didn't happen."

Nyland emphasized that the Marysville School Board did not decide to authorize the supplemental levy lightly, acknowledging that such an authorization could have been considered tacit approval for a "constitutional violation" of the state legislature's requirements to fund education. Nonetheless, he cast the Board's eventual decision as "an opportunity to do right by the kids."

Nyland noted that the levy campaign committee's job was made all the more difficult by this year's other bond and levy elections for the school district, which left less money that could be spent on this campaign. He added that conducting such a campaign during summer vacation curtailed the committee's available manpower, but praised its mass-mailing and phone call outreach efforts.

"In the end, we'll have to make do with what we have and provide the best education possible with our limited resources," Nyland said.

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