Simple majority for schools passing

By Celeste Cornish

Staff Writer

POULSBO — Dan Delaney can recognize poetic justice when he sees it. And in this case, he’s relishing in it.

More than a week after Washington’s voters seemingly killed Engrossed House Joint Resolution 4204, recent vote tallies have brought the issue back from the dead. As of Thursday afternoon, the simple majority issue was passing statewide by 51.32 percent — about 11,000 votes.

In Kitsap County, the measure was rejected soundly by 56.23 percent, according to Kitsap County’s Web site.

“It’s more than exciting,” said Delaney, a member of the North Kitsap School Board. “It’s extreme poetic justice that it wins by a little more than 50 percent. That’s how we do things in this country—we let the simple majority decide issues, not the minority.”

State educators maintained that allowing school levies to pass by 50 percent boiled down to being an issue of fairness. All other tax districts, including fire districts and regional libraries, need only a simple majority, or 50 percent plus one, to pass a levy, while school districts have to get a supermajority, or 60 percent. While North Kitsap School District voters are historically supportive of levies, this decision levels the playing field for other districts that are unable to garner voter support, Delaney said.

School districts receive funding from the state, while levies help pay for programs that fall outside the realm of basic education, like music and art. Levies also supplement teachers’ salaries.

“We need to get our priorities straight in this country on what we should spend our money on, and education should be at the top of the list,” Delaney said.

School board Member Ed Strickland, a former educator, has firsthand knowledge of how districts are affected when levies fail. As a teacher at Bremerton High School in the mid-‘60s, he saw a levy that would have provided additional funding for teachers’ salaries fail. As educators are oft to do, he left the school district — along with about 20 other educators — for the greener pastures of districts with deeper pockets.

“It enabled the wealthy districts to attract the best teachers. It wasn’t fair to the rest of the kids,” he said. He appreciates that North Kitsap voters are financially supportive of schools. “Local people have passed levies in the past eight to 10 years. We have tremendous support for the schools. Our voters are doing everything they legally can to support schools.”

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