KENNEWICK, Wash. — Voters have a big choice for Benton County schools this season. Every school district except for Prosser is running a bond or levy in February.
This will be the third time the Kennewick School District is asking for funding on Educational Programs and Operations Levy.
“There's a lot of effort put out to inform voters on these issues. It's just a matter of, you know, taking the initiative to seek out the information,” said Lorene Roe, Chief Deputy Auditor with Benton County.
One part of this levy affects athletes and activities.
“We don't receive basic education funding from the state to run those programs,” said KSD Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce.
She said paraeducators, nurses and school psychologists are also dependent on levy funding. There’s safety in schools this levy is looking to improve as well.
All of the Kennewick high schools currently have SROs, or school resource officers, but there are a few middle schools that don’t have them.
“We're going to add three school resource officers for our middle schools who don't currently have them,” said Dr. Pierce. She said the school district is also going to add safety officers to elementary schools, retired KPD officers, but they can’t do this with community support.
Not only does the school district not get this funding if the levy doesn’t pass, but it also means the school district gets passed up for state matching money.
“We get that money if we pass our levies. If you don't pass your levies, you don't get that additional funding,” said Dr. Pierce. “So, not only are we not collecting the levy, we're not collecting that $15 million of additional state funding either. So, it's a big hit.”
Because the levy wasn’t passed in 2022, this year, there have been cuts. Dr. Pierce said it’s impacted every part of the school district, and there would have been more cuts, had the school not had access to one-time federal COVID-relief funding.
“That's how we're managing right now. But we really can't use one-time money more than one time,” said Dr. Pierce.
Kennewick residents recently passed the KSD Capital Technology Levy, but the school district is looking for support for athletics, activities, staff and safety.
“We're grateful that the Tech Levy passed in 2022, and now we're looking at the levy that really funds people and programs and partnerships,” said Dr. Pierce. She said she hopes everyone is informed about what this levy is, where it’s going and how it will impact the safety and education for Kennewick School District students.
Rylee Fitzgerald joins the KAPP/KVEW team as a multimedia journalist as her first job in journalism after graduating college. She graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University with a degree in Journalism and Media Production in May 2022.
She started her journalism career at Hanford High School in Richland where she spent four years on the Falcon Report broadcasting team. She is an ardent writer and is typically found hunched over her computer writing either her novel, or a news story. With her love for writing, and her high school experience in broadcasting, nothing made more sense than to continue studying journalism in college.
Rylee finished her degree in just three years as an ambassador for the communication college, a producer for a Cable 8 Productions series, a camera operator for CougVision, and an MMJ for Murrow News 8. She spent a summer as a news intern at our sister station, KXLY, in Spokane before her senior year at WSU.
Rylee was born and raised in Tri-Cities, and eagerly comes back home after finishing college. She has a lot of pride for eastern Washington, as it’s the only place she’s ever called home.