Backseat Coach: What? Why vote down the levies?

  • Thursday, February 15, 2018 2:29pm
  • Opinion

I am so disappointed in my fellow Marysville voters. At press time, the school district’s maintenance and operations levy, the one we pay on every year, was being voted down.

The technology levy, which just started a few years ago, was winning by a slight margin, despite trailing on election night. It actually included an additional tax to help pay for capital projects, but voters didn’t seem to mind that as they actually have said school maintenance should be a priority.

A statement from the district says: “While we were disappointed with the initial results, we remain optimistic about the late returns. If either levy does not pass, we will go out to our voters again in April.

“If there is a double levy failure, it will be devastating for our students, staff and families. With the Educational Maintenance and Operations Levy representing twenty percent of the district’s overall budget, some tough decisions will have to be made. The levy pays for things like all-day counselors at our schools, transportation, student athletic opportunities, and the nurses and paraeducators who support our staff and help keep our kids safe…”

It only takes a simple majority to pass a levy. Arlington’s bond vote took a supermajority to pass so it failed. I think a new law is needed to allow a change to 55 percent approval. This country can’t get 60 percent to agree on anything.

I continue to be perplexed by the lack of support for schools. When we went to school, our grandparents and parents and communities paid taxes so we could learn. Over the generations, that has continued. We didn’t always like what schools did but we supported them.

But it seems like more often people today are voting levies down. Why don’t we support schools anymore? We can all assume we know but we’ve all heard the old saying of what that leads to. I would love some feedback to answer that question.

I’ve heard that the reason some people voted no was because the state is supposed to fully fund education. But really, what’s the difference? We have to pay either the district or the state or both – it’s really that simple.

One way or another, we have to pay. Where do you think the state gets its money? That’s right, from us. We keep saying we want schools fully funded, but we don’t seem to want to pay for it. Who else is going to?

If the state fully funds education, it will raise taxes then redistribute the money to school districts. In a sense, the state becomes the middle man. Do you know what happens when there is a middle man? Costs go up.

I think it’s great we still have local levies because then our districts can decide where the money goes. For each school district, that could be a different place.

Some folks don’t like that schools are paid for through property taxes. But property taxes are as fair as anything else. If you own property, you pay it. If you rent or lease property, you’ll end up paying it through higher rent. But we all pay, which is how it should be since we all benefit from an educated society.

Maybe you don’t think our schools are good enough. Maybe you think there are too many dropouts, or too many bad kids, or whatever. Then do something about it. Put pressure on schools to add more vocational options to keep many of those kids interested who don’t want to go to college. Give students more options for how to get a degree if they don’t like a traditional school setting.

Education needs to be improved. It costs too much for what we get out of it. But voting down levies is no way to fix it. That is passive aggressive. Don’t just complain or worse yet not say anything. Get involved. That is the right thing to do.

Tell the Marysville district what needs to change so you will support it. How can they fix it if they don’t know what the community doesn’t support?

Without a levy, we may have to cut sports, or bring back pay to play. Most people seem to agree arts are needed for a well-rounded education, but those could be cut. We all seem to want smaller class sizes, but if teachers are cut how will that happen?

We want, we want, we want. Well, that means we have to pay, to pay to pay. Nothing is free. When did that become part of our understanding? That definitely is fake news.

Steve Powell is the managing editor of The Marysville Globe-The Arlington Times. To respond, email

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