Dear Editor and Elk, Chattaroy, and Riverside Community Members,
My name is Daniel, and I am a graduate of Riverside High School. I was enrolled in Riverside School District for thirteen years. Although I’ve moved twice since I graduated in 2013, Chattaroy is, and always will be, my home. Attending Riverside was an essential part of who I became and how I got where I wanted to be, second to my family. I’m sure most of you have already heard about the upcoming levy, and whether or not you’ve made up your mind about it, I hope you’ll come to understand why your vote is so important.
Last June, the Washington state legislature passed a budget measure meant to finally meet our state constitutional requirement to fully fund basic education. This measure increases state property taxes for schools (from $2.00 to $2.82 for area property holders), but caps school levies at $1.50 per $1000 of assessed property value. However, the state supreme court ruled in November that this budget still doesn’t meet the education funding requirement (google “McCleary school funding” to find out more). So although Riverside’s funding situation has improved, we are asking for two levies this year to fill in the gaps from the state. Levy 1 is for educational programs and operations (things like sports, arts, career training), and Levy 2 is for security, roof repair, and technology updates. The combined rate of the two levies will be $0.84 per $1000 less than the current levy rate, thanks to more money from property tax increases across the state.
If you still think of these levies as unnecessary, I don’t know how to explain to you that fixing a leaky roof is not a luxury. If it’s something you’d do for your neighbor, your friend, or your relative, then I don’t see why you wouldn’t do it for the students and staff at Riverside, who might just be your neighbors, friends, or relatives anyway. The same goes for everything else the levies pay for: athletics, band, choir, art, drama, languages, clubs, engineering classes, advanced school security, new computers. All these things that help students develop beyond the “basic” education that the state pays for are just as important as fixing the “basic” leaky roof over their heads, and the students depend on your vote to make those things happen.
I got an exceptional education at Riverside, an education that enabled me to graduate with a degree in Bioengineering with Honors at Stanford last year, and to start my PhD this year. I know it’s cliché, but at Riverside I learned just as much from sports as I did from calculus, just as much from band as I did from chemistry. Character building, career opportunities, college prep – these aren’t covered by state requirements, these are covered by teachers, coaches, and counselors who are dedicated to helping the students of this community. Riverside deserves your help in fully, holistically educating its students and preparing them for a changing world. Please vote yes on both levies on February 13th.