Gateway: News

School board has in-depth discussion about levy options

The Peninsula School District Board of Directors used its Oct. 7 meeting to discuss how to present a continuing maintenance and operations levy to voters next year.

At the heart of the issue is the name change of the levy, which is now known as the Educational Programs and Operations Levy (EP&O), and used to be the Maintenance and Operations levy (M&O).

“This is a true continuing levy,” said board member Jerry Gibbs. “That term alone resonates with a lot of people because that says, ‘This is not a tax increase.’”

Gibbs has plenty of experience with school levies because he campaigned against the previous two levies put forth by the district. In those instances, Gibbs was against using levy funds for capital projects.

The levy funds pay for about 25 percent of general fund daily operations, said chief financial officer Karen Andersen.

Board member Rand Wilhelmsen was candid about the situation: “We can’t afford to fail this one.”

The levy is a renewal, not a new tax; the board feels that’s an important point. The previous two funding measures, which were for capital funds, were not a continuation of previously in-place funding. That’s why the board wants to bring home to voters that this levy, despite having a new name, is not new.

“The number one priority is pass the levy. We have to ensure we don’t do anything to confuse the electorate or antagonize the electorate,” Gibbs said.

The Oct. 8 meeting was all about board directions to staff. A final recommendation and adoption of the levy plan will come at the board’s Oct. 22 meeting, 6 p.m. at the district office, 14015 62nd Ave. NW, Gig Harbor.

Karen Miller: 253-358-4155