The Mercer Island School Board has unanimously approved an educational maintenance and operations levy proposition to be put to voters on the Feb. 13, 2018 special election ballot. The four-year levy replaces the one that was passed by Mercer Island voters in 2014.
“This replacement levy is essential to maintaining the high quality of Mercer Island schools, a key reason people move to the Island,” stated Board President David D’Souza. “The Mercer Island community has consistently shown how it values education through the approval of maintenance and operations levies and the School Board very much appreciates their continued support.”
If approved with a simple majority, the replacement levy would collect between $11.75 million and $12.75 million per year from 2019 to 2022 for educational programs and services, according to a news release from the district.
It funds 26 percent of the Mercer Island School District general fund, including 58 percent of special education funding.
Under a new law passed by the Legislature this year, use of local levy dollars are limited to enrichments — those programs, activities and staffing beyond the basic state apportionment that are funded through local efforts, which includes the levy, Foundation, PTA and other grants, donations and contributions.
At its Oct. 26 meeting, School Board members noted that though the state said it has fully funded education to comply with the McCleary decision, local levy funds are needed to fund programs beyond what is considered “basic education.”
With local funds the district has accomplished much to enrich the student experience on Mercer Island, including:
• establishing a seven-period day at the high school;
• Elementary K-5 music, Art, PE and Spanish.
• expanded electives at MIHS and IMS, including upper level science courses beyond the traditional one-year sequences and classes not normally available to students, such as the radio station at the high school;
• smaller class sizes for focused sections for struggling students or in specific areas;
• ongoing professional development opportunities for staff;
• stipends for staff to offer additional opportunities for students, including after-school clubs and activities at all grade levels;
• enhanced library collections;
• and classified support in classrooms with overloads, additional special education or English Language Learners, as well as student supervision and safety.
Ballots will be mailed Jan. 24, 2018 to all registered voters on Mercer Island. They must be returned by Feb. 13. A drop box is available at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center. If you are not registered to vote, you may do so online at vote.wa.gov.
The complete text of Replacement Educational Maintenance and Operations levy resolution is available on the district’s website.