On a vote that matters locally


Last updated 8/1/2018 at 9:44am

I, along with all voters in the Grand Coulee Dam School District, received my primary election ballot in the mail last week. Since it is a primary election, I was almost overwhelmed by the long list of names of people who are seeking to be selected to run in the general election in November to represent us in the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives or state Legislature. While I engaged a momentary urge to vote for GoodSpaceGuy in the U.S. Senate race, common sense finally ruled and I marked the box next to the name of the person I believe would best represent our state. I did the same for the other races as well. I then came to the school district capital projects levy question and only needed to select a “Yes” or “No”. Finally, a serious decision that would impact our local community far more than my decision to pass over “GoodSpaceGuy” as a possible U.S. Senator.

Having been on the other side of similar levy elections as a school superintendent, I know that such offerings are not taken lightly and that school leaders and board representatives do not ask for support that is available elsewhere. And here is the main issue: Our legislature attempted to meet our state Supreme Court’s requirement that the legislature meet its constitutional duty by creating a new model that changes how taxes are collected and school districts are funded. In doing so, rural districts that have a very limited amount of private property ownership (like our local district) have been left behind as more dollars are being funneled to already wealthy, property-rich districts that are primarily located on the west side of the state. In addition, legal “strings” were attached to the state funding that seriously impacted local school districts from applying funding dollars to address the unique needs of each district. While legislators have promised to review the inequities they created, I – and your local school leaders and board members – are not confident they will feel the urgency, nor completely understand, the damage they have done. Historically, legislative fixes have nearly always come too late.

Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

In order to mitigate the impacts on our local students as a result of the recent legislation, our local district School Board and administration are seeking a local levy that would maintain the current property tax amount (after one year of state-required adjustments) by seeking voter approval of a new local levy that would end after four years. While the replacement of computers, repair of buildings and the other items listed in the proposed levy were funded in the past as a part of the district’s Maintenance and Operations Levy, that ability was removed by the legislature. In review, I concluded that the request was a reasonable one; one that honored the district’s commitment to meet the needs of our students and taxpayers without unnecessarily raising taxes, and created a four-year timeline during which, hopefully, the legislature will repair the damage that has been done.

In conclusion, I inked the box next to the “Yes” option rather than taking the “GoodSpaceGuy” approach and simply casting an uninformed vote without regard to the consequences of my choice.

Dennis Carlson


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