Voters in Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula will be asked on Feb. 9 to renew the maintenance and operations levy for the Peninsula School District.
The Continuing Educational Programs and Operations (M&O) Levy will replace the existing operations levy — set to expire this year — and would provide funding for four years, through 2020.
In a letter sent out to the community, Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto said this upcoming levy provides an important source of funding for the school district.
The district’s Chief Financial Officer, Karen Anderson, agreed that the funds provided by the levy are critical to the district.
“(The levy is) vital,” Anderson said in an email. “The levy is 24 percent of our daily operations.”
The levy also supports 80 percent of the staffing costs for the school district, Anderson said.
The passage of the levy will authorize the collection of property taxes within the Peninsula School District in the total amounts of $23,575,000 in 2017, $25,350,000 in 2018, $26,750,000 in 2019 and $27,690,000 in 2020. The collection amounts for the levy would begin at $2.19 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2017 and would decrease over the following years to end at $2.16 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2020.
A task force, made up of members of the community and school district officials, worked last year to develop the Levy Spending Plan, which outlines the priorities for the funds raised by the levy. The plan was based on community input gathered from public forums and surveys, information gathered by the task force and the current goals of the Board of Directors.
Priorities within the Levy Spending Plan from 2017 to 2020 include class reduction sizes, additional teaching staff, routine repairs and maintenance of school facilities and grounds, safety and security, professional development, technology infrastructure, staffing, extra-curricular athletics, textbooks and curriculum and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
Kathy Weymiller, director of Community Outreach for the district, said that the effects of the levy funds are seen throughout the district.
“Levy funds are everywhere you look in the district,” she said. “These funds touch classrooms, maintenance, technology, nursing and health techs, office staff, safety initiatives, activities, community use, sports and more.”
The district will host four information sessions through January to discuss the levy:
▪ 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12 at Key Peninsula Middle School, 5510 Key Peninsula Hwy N, Lakebay
▪ 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at Henderson Bay High School, 8402 Skansie Ave., Gig Harbor
▪ 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14 at Key Center Library, 8905 Key Peninsula Hwy N, Lakebay
▪ 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Boys & Girls Club, 8502 Skansie Ave., Gig Harbor
Special election ballots will be mailed and can be expected on or after Jan. 22 and should be returned by Feb. 9, either by mail or at a Pierce County Elections drop box.
More information about the levy can be found online at the district’s website, www.psd401.net.