Simply put, there isn't a logical reason not to cast two YES votes on Feb. 3 when deciding the fate of the Sunnyside School District bond and levy issues. Sunnyside School District patrons are being presented with a golden opportunity. Passing these two ballot issues will give local voters the biggest bang for their buck that they've had in quite some time.
The first of the two election issues is a special levy, in the amount of $1,422,595. If Sunnyside area voters approve this levy, the state will kick in an additional $3,744,357 annually, for four years. That totals pretty darn close to $15 million. This state money, which is referred to as equalization funds, is earmarked for school districts that can't draw off of the high property tax rates that some of our westside school districts can. The one catch, though, in being awarded these equalization funds is that a special levy must be passed by local voters. In essence, by assessing ourselves a special levy, in this case $1,422,595, it shows state officials that we are making a financial commitment to our schools. And in turn the state rewards our commitment by giving us an extra $15 million over a four-year stretch.
The second of the two Feb. 3 election items we'll be voting on is an $11 million bond issue, which also qualifies us for more than $30 million in construction funds from the state over a several-year period. All told, passage of these two issues will make approximately $46 million available to the Sunnyside School District. This money is earmarked for the construction of two new schools, as well as the modernization of two other buildings. The money generated by your two YES votes on Feb. 3 will also be spent on new technology, the funding of student resource officers in our schools and other safety and security measures, student activities that aren't normally funded by the state, new buses, maintenance and capital improvement projects, and on enriching the curriculum taught in our schools.
Why, you may ask, does the Sunnyside School District need to build two more schools? It's because our district is growing by leaps and bounds. Our Sunnyside student body has increased by more than 90 kids, on average, each of the past 10 years. In 1993 our school district had 4,508 students. This year we have 5,442 students attending classes. Many of them are housed in portables. In fact, the district has 47 portables in use because there isn't enough room in our schools to house them all. And many of these portables are more than 20 years old.
Finally, the burning question is, what is all of this going to cost you-the taxpayer? The answer is: next to nothing by today's standards.
Because of current indebtedness, local school district patrons voting no would see their property taxes rise 15¢ for every $1,000 that their property is assessed. But for an extra nickel, that's right, just 5¢ for every $1,000 of assessed value, Sunnyside area residents will generate $46 million for local coffers...money that is needed to stay in step with our growing district.
How much more out of your pocket is this extra nickel assessment going to cost you? Well, if you own a home valued at $90,000, you're going to see an increase in your property taxes of $4.50. Instead of the 15¢ increase that you would already see because of current indebtedness, we're talking about a total increase of $18 for an owner of a $90,000 home. That's less than a $20 bill....a small price to pay to ensure Sunnyside children are given every possible opportunity to learn and grow.
It's a no-brainer. Vote YES and YES on your Feb. 3 ballot. It's too good of a deal to pass up.