Editorial: Support your schools and more; get your ballot in

Ballots are due today for most Snohomish County school districts and the Lake Stevens Library.

By The Herald Editorial Board

Judging by the number of ballots returned to the Snohomish County Elections Office as of Friday, there’s still a fair number of voters who have yet to turn in their ballots in today’s special election for school and other districts in the county.

Stated plainly: Please, get your ballots in. Mail them. Leave them at a drop box. But get them in.

As of Friday morning, the elections office had received only 18 percent of the 443,105 ballots it had sent to county voters.

Darrington voters, with levies for their schools and fire district, had returned about 25 percent of their ballots, about 430 of a little more than 1,700 ballots. Stanwood-Camano Island School District voters had returned a similar percentage. Other districts were lagging around 17 percent to 19 percent, including Edmonds, Everett, Granite Falls, Marysville and Snohomish.

We realize many voters wait until the day of the election to mark their ballots and get them in. That day has arrived. At the risk of sounding like a scold, get your ballots in.

For the record, elections are being held in the following districts: Arlington School District, Darrington School District, Darrington’s Fire District 24, Edmonds School District, Everett School District, Granite Falls School District, Index School District, Lake Stevens School District, Lake Stevens Library District, Marysville School District, Monroe School District, Mukilteo School District, Northshore School District, Snohomish School District, Stanwood-Camano School District and the Sultan School District.

This year’s special election are crucial, especially for school districts, because of the change in how the state is funding K-12 public education. For decades, state lawmakers haven’t kept up the state’s end of support for public schools, and instead allowed school districts to use their local school levies for a larger share of basic education, in particular teacher compensation.

That worked for some, but only those districts that had good support from their voters and had the benefit of having strong property valuations throughout the district. That inequity and over-reliance on school levies is what resulted in the McCleary lawsuit and the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. Justices in that decade-old decision ordered the state to end the state’s reliance on local school district levies and take responsibility for “basic” education.

The Legislature’s solution was the so-called levy swap, which has increased the state’s portion of the property tax and decreases the amount that school districts can seek in their own levies. (The one-year spike in property taxes that many are seeing this month is the overlap of the old system as levies approved in previous years expire and the state begins its collection at an increased level.)

There are details yet to work out, including an adjustment to the limit placed on local levies and a clearer definition of what the state is paying for in “basic education,” and what programs and costs districts can fund with local levies. But voters should remember that the state’s funding of basic education doesn’t end the need for local school districts to seek their own levies that turn “basic” education into a quality education.

Additionally, some districts are seeking separate levies to fund technology and capital facility needs, again expenses for which the state does not provide full funding.

The same local responsibility goes for the bonds that school districts rely on to build new schools and renovate existing buildings. While the state provides a percentage of funding for construction — an amount that varies — local school district taxpayers provide a significant amount of construction funding through bonding.

Districts that are seeking bonds in today’s election are Arlington, Everett and Northshore, whose district includes the Snohomish County portions of Bothell. A bond also is being sought for construction of Lake Stevens’ new library, part of the Sno-Isle Libraries system.

Unlike levies, which pass with a simple majority, bonds require a 60 percent supermajority for approval, which makes voter turnout all the more important.

We have previously recommended that voters show their support for what are investments in their communities — in today’s election: schools, a library and a fire district — by approving the levies and bonds that fund those investments.

But you can’t show that support unless you return your ballot.

Get yours in.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

FILE — In this Sept. 17, 2020 file photo, provided by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Chelbee Rosenkrance, of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, holds a male sockeye salmon at the Eagle Fish Hatchery in Eagle, Idaho. Wildlife officials said Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, that an emergency trap-and-truck operation of Idaho-bound endangered sockeye salmon, due to high water temperatures in the Snake and Salomon rivers, netted enough fish at the Granite Dam in eastern Washington, last month, to sustain an elaborate hatchery program. (Travis Brown/Idaho Department of Fish and Game via AP, File)
Editorial: Pledge to honor treaties can save Columbia’s salmon

The Biden administration commits to honoring tribal treaties and preserving the rivers’ benefits.

Editorial cartoons for Monday, Oct. 2

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Comment: Online retailers should follow FTC’s lead in Amazon suit

The antitrust suit provides a rule book on how to incentivize rather than punish sellers and customers.

Comment: Starbucks’ reusuable cups aren’t so climate-friendly

Some reusable products generate more emissions than the disposable items they’re meant to replace.

Comment: Parental vigilance of social media can go too far

A shift from “monitoring” to “mentoring” can allow teens to learn to make their own wise choices.

Eco-nomics: Climate report card: Needs more effort but shows promise

A UN report shows we’re not on track to meet goals, but there are bright spots with clean energy.

Comment: Child tax credit works against child povery; renew it

After the expanded credit ended in 2021, child poverty doubled. It’s an investment we should make.

Patricia Gambis, right, talks with her 4-year-old twin children, Emma, left, and Etienne in their home, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, in Maplewood, N.J. Gambis' husband, an FBI agent, has been working without pay during the partial United States government shutdown, which has forced the couple to take financial decisions including laying off their babysitter. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Editorial: Shutdown hits kids, families at difficult moment

The shutdown risks food aid for low-income families as child poverty doubled last year and child care aid ends.

Sen. June Robinson, D-Everett, left, and Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, right, embrace after a special session to figure out how much to punish drug possession on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, in Olympia, Wash. Without action, Washington's drug possession law will expire July 1, leaving no penalty in state law and leaving cities free to adopt a hodgepodge of local ordinances.  (Karen Ducey/The Seattle Times via AP)
Editorial: Robinson smart choice to head Senate budget panel

A 10-year legislative veteran, the Everett senator displays a mastery of legislation and negotiation.

Most Read