School levy wins public support


Danna Webster, KP News

Voters supported the Peninsula School District’s request for a replacement levy. The special election votes were nearly two to one in favor with 66 percent “Yes” votes. “Sixty-six percent. We feel very good about (it). We think it validates the community support for the schools and we love it,” said PSD superintendent Terry Bouck in response to the vote results. “I think this community has a lot to be proud of for their support for the schools,” Bouck said.

The replacement levy is 20 percent of the District’s revenue and will be used to continue to support the costs of such expenditures as class size reduction, hiring teachers and support staff, increasing safety security, and upgrading the bus fleet. According to the district, the levy will not increase tax rates. It will renew an expiring four-year levy approved in 2005 with an estimated tax rate of $1.32 per $1,000 of assessed property value. When asked about the risky nature of seeking the levy replacement during times of financial distress, Bouck said, “We had no choice. The levy is 20 percent of our funding. What feels very good is that, during these tough economical times, the parents, the community and the staff chose to support kids,” he said.

“Eighty percent of the levy monies will go to people,” said PSD deputy superintendent, Chuck Cuzzetto.  The money will be spread across the district equitably for all staff: teachers, clerical, support and maintenance.  The PSD provides education to over 9,000 students with 600 certificated and 300 classified staff members. Cuzzetto is pleased with the community support for the district on that portion of the budget. That support is critical because the district is preparing for budget cuts from the state. “Probably more than $1million in reduction,” he said. The district will still struggle with the 2009-2010 budgets because the of the state budget cuts and, in addition, the number of students in the district is declining which causes further reduction in revenues.

Members from the school board, business community, parents, administrators, employees and union leaders developed the spending plan proposal for the replacement levy cooperatively. “All the stakeholders had a part in it,” said school board member, Jill Johnson. She was the co-chair, with Dalen Harrison, for the Citizens for Peninsula Schools committee. This committee was organized 25 years ago to get out the vote for school bonds and levies. Work on the replacement levy started a year in advance. The vote results were “absolutely phenomenal numbers,” Johnson said. “We are so proud of our community,” she said. The committee now owns the trademark for the slogan used in their campaign, Great communities support great schools.

Some of the 30 plus levy presentations by Superintendent Bouck and Deputy Superintendent Cuzzetto were on the Key Peninsula. At the Jan. 16 Key Peninsula Business Association lunch meeting, they presented a list of programs and expenditures that are funded by levy money: health technicians at all schools, instructional coaches at each elementary, extended day activities support, technology service, school building maintenance and new instructional materials.

Bouck, who lives in Purdy, made it known that he keeps an eye out for the Key Pen schools. “The Key Peninsula is unique,” Bouck said. “It’s about community. It’s about kids. The kids are well-behaved. They work hard. I’m so proud of being here three years and I plan to be here for a while,” he said.