While the thought of increasing local levies is not something anyone, especially recession-hit tax payers, wants to deal with, it is possible that KSD could put the issue before the voters in order to save teachers and programs in Kent. Without a doubt, the voters of Kent have seen in the past the value of education by supporting levy renewals– even in the current recessionary climate. At the June Community Budget Forum, it was shown that the local levy dollars, combined with Levy Equalization measures, allowed KSD to make up for cuts in education funding at the state level.
Despite this fact, the District has chosen to RIF teachers and programs yet again. This is unnecessary and harmful! Going back to the voters to increase the levy is possible, but is not necessary to recall those laid off. The cost of restoring all the certificated staff who received layoff notices is about $1.2 million, and the General Fund Balance will be almost $22 million by the end of this year’s budget. They can afford the recall of RIF’d teachers and staff without an election. In light of the fact that the last levy passed with 53% of the vote makes the levy a long shot, but one that the District can consider if it needs to.
Some facts about possible revenue streams that KSD has chosen not to take advantage of to protect the kids of Kent:
- Total K-12 enrollment excluding Running Start in Kent has changed very little in the last four years.
- Thanks in large part to the passage of SHB 2893, the District could collect an additional $5.7 million (11.3%) more in local levy revenue next year compared to this year’s collections if Kent voters approved an increase in local levies.
- The District has chosen to do without $3.3 million in revenue over the last five years by not maximizing the amount of levy dollars they can collect under the law.
- If KSD does no approach the voters this Fall about increased levy dollars, the District will be choosing to do without $3.5 million in 2011.
KSD continues to say that they have no choice but to cut programs and staff in Kent. Clearly, based upon the information above, KSD could, in fact, avoid these cuts through an increase of the levy in Kent. This is not the only solution possible, nor is it the most desirable, but it is an alternative to cutting, and cutting, and cutting some more from the budget in Kent. Shouldn’t the voters of Kent have the opportunity to choose between an increase in levies and a decrease in education services in Kent?
You can view the entire Community Budget Forum presentation from June 2nd here. We welcome your comments and questions!