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Kamiah levy: Think critical how to vote

Letter: Kevin and Dena Francis, Kamiah

On Mar. 11 the patrons of Kamiah School District will have the opportunity to vote on the proposed levy amount of $650,000. Kamiah is one of the few districts in the entire state that has been able to run without levied support for the past several years. Because the state is not giving adequate finances for schools to operate, this will be the last year that Kamiah can function at a desirable level without any local monetary aid.

The communities around us, including Kooskia, Grangeville, Cottonwood, Nezperce, Orofino, Salmon River and Genessee, have passed levies so that their local schools can stay open. We who live within the Kamiah School District have the chance to vote on a supplemental levy. How will you vote?

We will be voting yes for this levy after the following considerations:

Our four boys have all attended Kamiah schools at some time in their lives. However, all of them have also been schooled either privately or at home at some point, too. Currently, one has graduated from college, two are in Kamiah Middle School, and one is being homeschooled. So this is the question we had to ask ourselves, and we believe every patron also needs to ask him/herself. Would I support a levy if I did not have children attending school in Kamiah? Our answer to this is yes based on the following beliefs. Our duty as parents is to give our children the best educational opportunities we can, whether that is public, private, or home schooling. All of these options may be viable at different times for different children. However, we know that not all parents can provide a private or home schooling alternative to a public education if needed. Because we are not just parents, but also citizens of a community, our duty is to help provide, within our means, support for the many children that only have a public school option. Most citizens would help provide medical care to anyone in need. Education is as important as healthcare needs. If we fail to assist these children in gaining a quality education, their future will be quite grim. Our portion of the levied amount is within our means. Therefore, we will vote yes.

The public schools in any town help maintain a sense of community. Even those that don’t have children or grandchildren in school will often watch sporting events, musical concerts, or theater productions. Without a school, many of the events that draw people together will be gone. Schools also provide extended educational opportunities for homeschooled students, such as speech/language services, technology and industrial arts classes, and athletic activities. If a school closes, more than just public school students suffer. Kamiah public school is the largest employer in town. If this school closes, or operates at a drastically lower level than it is now, unemployment will skyrocket. Not only will teachers lose their jobs, but also bus drivers, food service employees, custodians, educational aides, secretaries, and coaches. The ripple effect of such a large loss of jobs would be devastating to Kamiah and the surrounding area. Existing businesses would suffer and it would be very difficult to attract new businesses. Families would be forced to move either because of job loss or the lack of educational opportunities for children. Property values would plummet with such an exodus of people. In short, Kamiah would never recover from the drastically reduced educational opportunities or closure of the schools. Voting yes on the proposed levy may seem expensive to you, but what will it cost if it does not pass?

We encourage you to critically think about how you will vote on March 11. We will be voting yes.

Kevin and Dena Francis

Kamiah

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