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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Guest Opinion

Breean Beggs, Lori Kinnear and Candace Mumm: Our schools and students need us now more than ever

By Breean Beggs, Lori Kinnear </p><p>and Candace Mumm Spokane City Council

We strongly urge voters to say yes to the Spokane Schools 2021 Replacement Levy. Our students need quality education now, more than ever. During the pandemic, our educators have gone above and beyond to support our community and stretched their resources to the brink.

Spokane schools have been feeding thousands of families, teachers have been working tirelessly to make remote learning successful for students, and administrators have been collaborating on a new plan in partnership with the Washington Department of Health and the Spokane Regional Health District to return all students back to in-person instruction by March .

While the Washington state Legislature funds basic education, that baseline level of funding has never been enough to provide an exceptional and enriching educational experience for Spokane families.

When students come back to the classroom, let’s make sure they will have sports, art, music and drama. Let’s make sure there will be enough nurses, counselors and advanced placement classes for the college bound.

To ensure effective and capable programs and staff are available to our children, it is imperative that the citizens of Spokane pass the upcoming Spokane Public Schools (SPS) 2021 Replacement Educational Program and Operational Levy.

The original replacement levy approved by voters in 2018 was $3.79 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The Legislature later reduced all supplemental levies to a maximum of $1.50/$1,000 as part of its response to the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.

Recently, the Legislature adjusted that limit upward to $2.50/$1,000 so school districts could better maintain their prior levels of service to students. We support the district’s request to voters to gradually increase the operational levy to that $2.50/$1,000 rate set by the Legislature.

The bottom line is, this replacement levy would bring the district back to rates that better meet its essential services, and programmatic and extracurricular needs, while remaining significantly below levy rates that Spokane citizens have historically supported ($4.08 in 2014; $4.05 in 2015; $4.01 in 2016; $3.96 in 2017; and $3.79 in 2018).

Now more than ever, our community’s students, educators and families need us. Because of reductions in regionalization and Local Effort Assistance funding, the state has already announced that SPS should expect to see a decrease in state funding to the tune of $7.7 million in 2021-2022; $14.6 million in 2022-2023; and $19.9 million in 2023-2024. That is a $42.2 million decrease in state funding for SPS over the next three years.

Without this levy, cuts would have to be made. Serious cuts. Cuts to programs that make Spokane students thrive. We believe this investment in our students brings long-lasting value to our community.

As City Council members working on the future of our city, laying the groundwork for the next generations of Spokane citizens, we are proud to support the Spokane Public Schools’ 2021 Replacement Educational Program and Operational Levy. Please make sure you vote by Feb. 9 to make your voice heard in support of our students and Spokane’s future.

As Ben Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest!”

Council President Breean Beggs

Council Member Lori Kinnear

Council Member Candace Mumm

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