PORT ORCHARD – Voters will soon decide the fate of the education program and operations levy that South Kitsap School District has placed on the ballot in a special election on Feb. 9.
The levy amount the district is requesting comprises 15 percent of SKSD’s budget, provides economic support to schools and funds more than 150 staff positions, according to district administrators. The money will help support lowering class sizes and fund music, drama and art, special education, and athletic programs and facilities maintenance, school officials said.
“School districts rely on voter-approved funding measures to cover costs not funded by the state. All funds approved by South Kitsap voters stay in the community,” a district publication posted online stated.
The levy replaces the levy that passed in 2017 and expires this year. Passage would keep the current tax rate of $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed home value. The financial impact on the owner of a $400,000 home for the first year would be $83.33 a month or $1,000/year, according to a district publication. That amount could be less in future years.
Committee Against South Kitsap 2021 Levy opposes the measure. Group spokesman Jim Bryant said the district has too many employees who have been given unsustainable raises, which he said the district can’t afford. The levy bails the district out, he said.
SKSD has put together a plan to educate voters about its position on the levy, which is detailed on its website at skschools.org.
SKSD’s community outreach
A series of virtual town halls and short videos on social media platforms are planned to educate voters about the ballot measure, SKSD spokeswoman Amy Miller said.
The question-and-answer sessions are scheduled for Jan. 19 and 27, she said. The animated videos, hosted by a character humorously named Ella Mentry, will cover levy basics, staffing and extracurricular activities. A segment called “Show Me the Money” will detail property taxes and school funding.
SKSD, which has 16 schools and serves approximately 8,500 students attending grades kindergarten through 12th grade, is the largest employer in Port Orchard with more than 1,300 employees.