Opinion

You can save money and save school sports | Editorial

— Editor's note: This version corrects the amount of property tax savings you can expect from the end of the 1997 bond approved to modernize Friday Harbor Middle School and Friday Harbor High School, and to purchase 30 acres near Carter Avenue for a future school and related athletic fields.

In this era of economic uncertainty, good news regarding savings and investments is always welcome. Here’s some:

You’re going to see a sizable reduction in your 2010 property tax bill. You can help save school sports and still see a sizable reduction.

This year, a property tax of between 40 and 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation ends. That levy repaid an $11.5 million bond approved by voters in 1997 to modernize Friday Harbor Middle School and Friday Harbor High School, and to purchase 30 acres near Carter Avenue for a future school and related athletic fields.

As a result of the bond being repaid, your tax bill should go down next year by $40 to $50 for every $100,000 of your property’s assessed value.

That’s the savings. Here’s the investment.

The San Juan Island School Board voted to not fund school sports beginning 2009-10, in response to a decrease in funding of between $800,000 and $1 million. The board anticipates a $1 million budget shortfall because of expected reductions in the state education budget, enrollment declines and a shortfall in legislative funding for state voter-mandated pay increases for teachers.

The district is putting books before sports. That’s a good thing. But sports and their lessons of competition, fairness, good health, self-discipline and sportsmanship are important too. Equally important are the career-training and scholarship opportunities school sports provide.

Here’s how you can help.

The San Juan Island Park and Recreation District — aka Island Rec — will likely place on the Nov. 10 ballot a levy of 4 or 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation to fund school sports. Island Rec would have a memorandum of agreement with the school district to fund school sports; the school district would continue to operate the school sports program. This means student-athletes would get to compete in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA).

The levy would provide a stable source of funding for school sports for six years. And you could fund school sports and still see a savings on your property tax bill of about 40 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

In other words, you can save school sports and your tax bill still goes down a lot.

At this point, although the election is six-and-a-half months away, we feel a sense of urgency in endorsing the levy.

By the way, if you approve the levy, the first tax revenues wouldn’t be received until April 2010. That means, there is no funding yet for fall and winter sports. No Wolverine football, girls soccer, boys tennis, volleyball, boys and girls basketball, or wrestling.

Saturday at 5 p.m., Purple & Gold will host a barbecue, dance and auction at Beaverton Valley Business Park, with the fund-raising goal of $45,000. For a $20 ticket, you’ll enjoy dinner, live music by Dirt Monkey and the Friday Harbor High School Jazz Band, and an auction (you can bid on a V.W. Superbeetle and on chores to be performed by student athletes).

Tickets are available at Post San Juan.

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