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Levy backers hoping to win their second in a row

"Supporters of the South Kitsap School District maintenance and operations levy hope a winning streak starts Feb. 29.If enough ballots counted in the levy election that day are marked yes, the levy will be the second in a row to pass. If not, the district will be faced with deciding whether to resubmit a rejected property tax measure.District officials have been there, done that. The current two-year levy passed in April 1998 after three consecutive losses, including one earlier that year. The district now is offering a four-year, approximately $44 million proposal. From 2001 to 2005, the district would receive $10.7 million the first year, $11.1 million the second year, $11.5 million the third year and $12 million the final year in assessments on property within the district.District officials prefer a four-year levy to two years because the longer flow of local funding makes long-range budgeting and project planning easier.To validate the results, at least 8,624 registered voters within the district must participate in the election, and at least 60 percent must vote yes for the levy to pass. With money from the new levy, the district would buy new classroom and educational material, a portable classroom building for junior high school alternative education and special education, a computer network extending to all classrooms districtwide and a new telephone system. Money also would be earmarked for new buses and maintenance and improvements of school buildings.Similar kinds of expenditures have been made with the approximately $20 million raised by the 1998 levy. The highlights include:* Whitman Junior High: Built a baseball field and converted the old baseball diamond to a softball field, repaired walls and ceilings, painted outside.* Cedar Heights Junior High: Installed a new scoreboard, added storage area for instruments in the band room, painted the library.* Sedgwick Junior High: Painted the outside, remodeled the computer room, resurfaced classroom desks.* Olalla Elementary School: Installed a security camera, installed a scoreboard on the softball field, painted crosswalks, created a walking-path for safer student entry, added two portable classroom buildings.* Madrona Heights Elementary School: Remodeled a room for the teenage parenting program, increased parking, remodeled the office and installed a new exit door.* South Colby Elementary School: Rekeyed the building.* Hidden Creek Elementary School: Retrofitted emergency lighting.* Manchester Elementary School: Upgraded playfields.* Sidney Glen Elementary School: Added portable classrooms, moved a fire hydrant.* At the district's transportation center, a new hoist was installed in the auto shop, a waste oil tank was removed, underground fuel storage tanks were renovated and an office was remodeled. And in the district's administrative headquarters, flooring was repaired.The '98 levy passage also preserved students' extracurricular activities, including athletics. That, along with heavy cuts in transportation, would have been among $3.5 million in budget cuts the district would have made after a fourth consecutive levy failure. No such reductions have been projected if this year's levy loses. During the current school year, the largest chunks of money from the 1998 levy and accompanying state levy equalization funds--approximately $12 million combined--are going to employee salaries (52 percent) and classroom-related needs (31 percent)."

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