Both BI school levies passing easily

Both Bainbridge Island three-year school levies were passing easily Tuesday night.

The Enrichment levy was passing 5,612, or 68.5 percent, to 2,583, or 31.5 percent.

The Tech levy was passing 5,913 to 2,281, or 72 percent to 28 percent.

“The local Bainbridge Island community continues to impress me with its outpouring of support of our schools,” BISD Superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen said. “Our students and staff are incredibly fortunate to live and work in a community that places such a high value on public education.”

The superintendent has some concerns about the levies.

“To be honest, it was a bit unnerving running these two levies during a pandemic when people are filled with stress and uncertainty,” Bang-Knudsen said. “These levies play the crucial role of filling the gap between state funding and the actual cost of fully educating our students.”

Even with both measures passing, the district still will need to reduce some staff and programs due to declining enrollment due to COVID-19, unless those students return.

Thanks to increased valuation, overall tax rates for local schools actually only will go up from $2.61 in 2021 to $2.65 in 2022, in costs per $1,000. That’s $2,120 a year on an $800,000 home. That’s about $30 more than previously.

Cost is $1.04 for the enrichment levy and 26 cents for the tech levy.

The levies pay for things state school taxes don’t. The state provides for 75 percent of the district’s more than $57.5 million general fund, while 18 percent is provided by local levies.

The district also uses the funds to provide 4.87 nurses, 3.85 psychologists, 11.1 counselors and one social worker. The state only funds .77 nurse, .32 psychologist, 7.85 counselor and .41 social worker.

The Tech Levy has been $2.2 million since 2014, but the district is seeking an increase of $300,000 to $2.5 million. The reasons: increased costs of goods and services; Staff wage and benefit increases; and a new hire to focus on instructional technology.

The $10 million enrichment levy pays for things such as: Teachers and support staff; Special Education, along with remedial reading and math programs, and paraeducators; Enrichment for students, such as art, music, STEM and electives; Instructional materials such as books, subscriptions and consumables; Extracurricular activities such as athletics and clubs; and Districtwide support for maintenance, custodial, student transportation and central office.

The tech levy pays for: Student devices used at home and school, such as Chromebooks; Classroom presentation equipment; Distance learning tech and services; Assistive tech for students; Operational tech, such as networking, data backup, etc.; Software for library services and supporting educational electronic content; Cyber-security and cyber-safety; and Tech professional development.

The election will be certified Feb. 19.