Midterm Elections Loom, Puyallup proposes Levy

Emma Pedro, Staff

Many Puyallup voters have questions about what the proposals on their ballot this November will mean going forward. This includes the Capital Levy proposed by the Puyallup School District this year, which if passed will gather and direct funds towards maintaining Puyallup schools.  

While the district receives funds from the state, these dollars do not stretch far enough to cover all the necessities for Puyallup schools, according to Dr. Cassandra Mueller, a Puyallup High School CTE teacher.  

“We receive funding from the state that is on a pupil basis, and it’s not enough. It’s just for the basics,” Dr. Mueller said.  

The Director of Communications for the Puyallup School District, Sarah Gillispie, provided further insight into the situation. 

“There [are] about $206 million worth of critical repairs needed,” Gillispie said. 

Gillispie says the school district is waiting on funds for over 400 projects. 

While voters may be hesitant to invest their money in the district, Puyallup High School principal David Sunich reaffirms the need for the levy.  

“These are necessary maintenance projects to take care of the investments we’ve already made in our school,” Sunich said.  

The levy will be addressing, over the course of six years, maintenance issues such as safety and security, updating technology, building improvements, outdoor learning and on-site transportation.  

According to teachers and district officials, these seemingly small maintenance projects have significant meaning both for their work and the lives of students.  

“[The levy is] kind of like taking your car in for an oil change. You don’t see it, but you know it benefits your car,” Sunich said. 

While safety and security are the biggest portions of the levy, a significant amount of funds will be going towards updating technology in schools as well.  

One of the misconceptions about the levy is its impact on homeowners living in the district. Gillispie says the district is aware of its responsibility to the public and that being good caretakers of public funds is a priority. 

Gillispie explains that the financial impact of the levy will not unfairly burden Puyallup residents, since if the levy passes the Puyallup tax rate will remain lower than that of nearby districts and will take place over a six-year period, which will prevent immediate financial consequences.  

Another common source of confusion about the levy is the difference between a levy and a bond. According to Dr. Mueller and Gillispie, the two are significantly different, Gillispie clarifying that bonds can only be used towards building, whereas levies go towards maintenance. The levy money, therefore, will not be used to construct new facilities in the Puyallup School District, only to maintain the existing facilities. 

“[These funds] benefit everybody in the district. They benefit our community to have good schools… it helps property values, and part of society is having a good school system,” Sunich said. 

Dr. Mueller also emphasized the importance of these funds.

 “I think it’s important for everyone to know that we don’t have enough money coming from the state… levies fit that gap… to make sure that we are able to give a full free public education to all students,” Dr. Mueller said.  

The vote took place Nov. 8 and Puyallup residents will soon be informed on the status of the levy.