GUEST - Levy supports children of Walla Walla in many ways

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Walla Walla Public Schools will have an Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy on the ballot in February.

Before you decide to vote yes or no, it is important to understand how a school levy supports the children of Walla Walla. A school levy pays for what our current funding system doesn't cover.

Programs and the staff required to provide that education include librarians, PE and music specialists. The funding titled "Basic Education Allocation" is only expected to cover what the Legislature has deemed part of the definition of basic education and the above educational programs are not included.

Yet as parents and as educators we know that school is more than just reading, writing and math. Students need and want more.

The levy also supports extracurricular activities. With today's economy both parents often work, relying more on schools to provide a longer day to meet their children's needs.

For children too young to work and too risky to just "hang out," parents look to the schools to provide an array of extracurricular activities such as sports, clubs and service groups. Well, our schools do that and it's because the citizens of Walla Walla has recognized this need, supporting the school levy in years past.

We understand that current economic conditions may cause some people to vote against this levy even though this levy is a replacement levy and not an additional tax. But before you even consider voting against this levy, think about the wonderful schools in Walla Walla.

In Walla Walla we have an award-winning education system with several of our elementary schools earning the School of Distinction Award for academic achievement and our high school was one of only two schools in Washington that earned the Washington Achievement Award for closing the achievement gap.

Principal of Blue Ridge Elementary School, Mrs. Doepker, and principal of Lincoln High School, Mr. Sporleder, continue to be recognized for their focus on education and ensuring that all students receive a quality, equitable education.

Additionally, Walla Walla schools have an extended graduation rate of 94.3 percent. This rate is well above the state average of 82.7 percent.

And we think you can agree that America is better off when our young people are graduating high school, reducing the financial drain in other areas. It is a win-win situation for everyone when students are in school, learning, and participating in after-school programs.

The entire community benefits.

Supporting the Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy in February sends a message not only to the hundreds of school employees but also to the thousands of children and their families that a well-rounded education is important. It also sends a strong message to the surrounding areas and to the businesses that are looking to expand or relocate.

A community that supports its schools is a community desirable to others. And with new businesses, it brings new jobs and career advancement opportunities.

Our community relies on the strength of the education system in supporting our community and our local economy.

We appreciate your support. Vote "yes" to approve the continuation of the Educational Programs and Operations Levy for Walla Walla schools.

Margo Piver and Chris Blackman are parents of Walla Walla Public Schools students and special education teachers at Walla Walla High School. Piver is president of the Walla Walla Valley Education Association.

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