Puyallup, Sumner voters say ‘yes’ to education investments

Academics: Technology levies surpass 60 percent voter approval in both school districts

of the HeraldFebruary 19, 2014 

Voters in both the Sumner and Puyallup school districts passed two school measures in the special election last week.

Sumner School District’s two levies both were exceeding a 60 percent approval rating as of Friday. Ballots were due Feb. 11.

The measures were a $20 million renewal of the district’s four-year maintenance and operations levy, which provides funding for 20 percent of its overall budget, plus a $2.5 million technology capital levy.

“We’re able to carry on with maintenance and operations without having to worry about what to cut,” Sumner Superintendent Sara Johnson said.

Johnson said the technology levy will help the district put a computer in the hands of every student by 2017. As part of an earlier pilot program, Chromebooks were provided to every third- and fourth-grade student in the district this past year.

“We want to make sure that kids don’t have a gap (in technology),” Johnson said. “I’m really grateful, and I’m also happy. There is a certain amount of relief and excitement. This will bring changes to our classroom.”

Johnson said district staff members and the school board worked hard to reach voters prior to the election.

“I knew that we really had to educate,” Johnson said. “But I got the sense that people were really supportive.”

In the Puyallup School District, a $49.5 million renewal of the education programs, maintenance and operations levy received 66.8 percent of the vote, according to the Pierce County auditor’s office. The district’s $46 million capital improvements and technology upgrades levy also was passing as of Friday with 63.6 percent approval.

“I’m appreciative and deeply thankful to the community,” Puyallup Superintendent Tim Yeomans said.

The capital improvements levy was a deciding factor in the school board choosing to move forward with expanding all-day kindergarten, Yeomans said.

“It helps us to maintain what we currently have and helps us to prepare for all-day kindergarten,” he said. “We’re purchasing 16 portable classrooms to go with the 216 we already have. Those will be in place by next fall. This will accommodate our growth.”

Yeomans said the district is experiencing an influx of 488 new students this year.

“That is a lot of kids,” he said.

Puyallup’s maintenance and operations levy funds 24 percent of regular operating costs.

Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001.

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