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Education Trust Fund goes to voters

Initiative 884, the Education Trust Fund that adds one cent to sales tax in Washington state to raise a billion dollars to improve K-16 education, is officially on the fall ballot and will be decided by voters on November 2. The sales tax in Washington would rise from 6.5 to 7.5 percent.

This report was announced to the South Kitsap School Board at its July 19 meeting after legislative liaison Gregg Scott received a call from the League of Education Voters. Scott also reported the League is preparing to hold regional campaigns to rally support of the Initiative.

As far as the Initiative, Superintendent Bev Cheney said the Board has not fully researched the effect it might have on South Kitsap’s school district.

“We’re still looking at that,” Cheney said. “Part of the dilemma we have is we’re always looking at needing additional funding.”

The District’s current four-year levy expires in December of 2005.

According to Cheney, the money generated by the Initiative will be split in half between K-12 and higher education, then distributed between the approximately 300 school districts in Washington state.

Cheney said she does not have a good feel for how the Initiative will be received in the community.

“I have no idea if it would pass in this district,” Cheney said.

According to the League of Education Voters, the I-884 Education Trust Fund will create 10,000 new high-quality preschool spaces for children; reduce class sizes by fully funding Initiative 728; raise the base pay for teachers and school employees, and community and technical college employees, to what they would be receiving if the Legislature hadn’t suspended I-732 last year; provide additional classes in high school and support parent involvement; expand Promise scholarships for the top 30 percent of graduating high school seniors and financial aid to keep college affordable for working and middle class students; fund 25,000 additional enrollment slots in community and technical colleges and four-year universities and 7,000 new enrollments in high demand fields and invest in university-based research that generates new businesses and jobs.

The Board also mentioned an interest in hosting a candidate forum sometime before the September 14 Primary Election.

“The Board wants to host a candidate forum for the 26th and 35th Districts with the single topic of education and education funding,” Cheney said. “We’re in the midst of scheduling.”

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