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Whatcom View: School levy supports Meridian student activities, sports

Mark Gilmore, Meridian High School varsity girls basketball coach, talks with his team during a game.
Mark Gilmore, Meridian High School varsity girls basketball coach, talks with his team during a game. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

It’s game night! Tonight it’s a basketball game for the Meridian Trojans. All the expenses for this game are covered by the respective school districts and the money comes from local levies. The coaches are paid stipends, the students athletes ride on a school district bus, fueled and insured by the district and driven by a school district-paid bus driver. Present at the game is the district-paid athletic trainer, who is ready to assist any athlete who is injured using medical supplies provided by the district. Students play with district gear and uniforms in a warm, lighted gym that is cleaned and maintained by district staff. The shot clock and scoreboard operators as well as the announcer are paid stipends. The districts pay for the referees as well. The pep band in the stands and the cheerleaders on the court are there because the district provided these opportunities and paid for their staff adviser.

This is just one event on one evening, but is an example of the many activities that are provided by local levy funding. Have you attended a school play, music concert, FFA event, Mock Trial, chess club or math club competition? Did your child or grandchild participate in an after-school sponsored activity like ukulele club or drum line? If it was an event for students that occurred outside the regular school day or an employee who was not included in the category of “basic education” (like a school nurse) that category was supported by local levy funding.

The current levy is expiring and to keep the levy in effect to cover the years 2017-2020 we are asking our voters to vote yes on Feb. 9 for a replacement levy.

The state of Washington provides funding for “basic education,” which includes things such as math, science and reading during the regular school day. The federal government provides funding for some student-support programs such as Title 1 reading, English-language learners, special education, and free and reduced breakfast/lunch programs. All other student programs and personnel, student activities and athletics are funded by a local levy.

In Meridian School District 22 percent of the operating budget is provided by local taxpayers through an educational maintenance and operations levy that is presented to the voters every four years. The current levy is expiring and to keep the levy in effect to cover the years 2017-2020 we are asking our voters to vote yes on Feb. 9 for a replacement levy.

It is important for us to provide a wide range of opportunities and experiences for our students. Our students learn and grow when they have opportunities to be involved in music, the arts, athletics and a variety of activities and clubs. These kinds of opportunities contribute to becoming successful and contributing adults in society.

Thank you to our Meridian family! Our community is strong, our schools are strong and our students are strong. As a result of community support for the levy our Meridian schools provide many opportunities and a well-rounded education for our children and grandchildren.

See you at the next game. Go Trojans!

This is one in a series of columns about Whatcom County school levies. Tom Churchill is superintendent of the Meridian School District. Ballots will be mailed Jan. 20 with drop boxes open from that date until 8 p.m. Feb. 9. One 49-cent stamp is required if you mail your ballot. It must be postmarked by Feb. 9.

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