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Marysville School Board seeks comment on proposed levies Oct. 16

Residents of the Marysville School District are invited to submit their comments to the MSD Board of Directors at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16, regarding two tax proposals slated for the ballot on February of next year.

"The district has so many needs, but the Maintenance and Operations Levy is perhaps the most critical," Board President Chris Nation said of the first of the two proposals. "It represents one-fifth of our budget, and especially in the wake of years of budget cuts in the millions of dollars, it'll have a huge impact if it doesn't pass, not just in terms our daily operations, but also on the kids themselves."

The current Maintenance and Operations Levy was approved by voters in 2010 for the tax years of 2011-14, and it expires at the end of the 2014 tax year. Although MSD Finance Executive Director Jim Baker is still fine-tuning his calculations based on the property values in Snohomish County, early estimates indicate that the cost of the proposed replacement four-year Maintenance and Operations Levy will be nearly the same as the expiring levy.

"The district is headed in the right direction," Nation said. "We still have a long way to go, but we know that, and we're looking to maintain our momentum moving forward. People might be leery of the cost, but it's a relatively small sacrifice that can make a huge impact on our children's lives. We can make a positive difference in the world by making them better and more productive citizens, and that starts right here."

Nation acknowledged that the second proposal, a new four-year Technology Levy, might not seem as pressing of a concern as a bond to repair or replace existing school buildings, but he joined fellow district officials in identifying student learning through technology as a critical skill in the 21st Century.

"We need to help our kids develop critical thinking skills by finding information and other resources, so they need the best equipment with which to do that," Nation said of the levy, which would help all Marysville schools upgrade their technology, for students and staff alike, to enhance learning programs through computers, wireless services and upgraded devices. "It's not good enough for our kids to just be getting by. They need more access to the online world that everything is moving toward."

According to district officials, the Technology Levy will also allow access for students to take the new required online state assessments, and prepare them to have the skills they need to compete in a global market.

"We want our school district to be a leader and an innovator in methods of learning and instruction," Nation said, even as he acknowledged that the levy would cost an additional $8 to $10 a month, based on a home value of $200,000, and depending upon final options approved by the MSD Board of Directors after it solicits public comment from citizens. "This was a tough decision for us, and if the public comes to us and believes that these levies are not in our best interests, we want to hear that."

All residents of the Marysville School District are encouraged and welcome to attend the public meetings in the Board room of the MSD Educational Service Center, located at 4220 80th St. NE in Marysville, on Oct. 16 and Dec. 4, after which the Board plans to decide at their Dec. 9 meeting whether to place both levies on the February 2014 ballot.

MSD Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg agreed that the Maintenance and Operations Levy is critical to maintaining district operations, as much as improving instructional technology, since the district last passed a technology measure as part of a 2006 bond, which makes the average age of computers used by students and teachers more than seven years old.

If a Technology Levy passes, the district estimates that it would spend nearly 90 percent of the money in schools and classrooms, while the remainder would fund improvements in infrastructure and provide training. For more information about the two proposed levies, contact Baker by phone at 360-653-0803 or via email at james_baker@msvl.k12.wa.us.

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