Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for Nov. 23

State doesn’t fund basic education

A recent article highlighted the difficult situation of the gun club at Black Hills High School and the Cispus programs in the Tumwater and Olympia school districts — a few of the many programs suffering cuts in our schools.

We are concerned that the article might leave an inaccurate impression that the difficulty is a result of the financial crisis.

Though the state budget cuts have been severe, they are only the latest in its long policy of underfunding basic education, a policy which has seen per pupil spending plummet to an embarrassing rank of 42nd nationally.

The frustrating truth is that plenty of money exists to fully fund these programs and to do much more. Voters in both districts have consistently supported levies which by the state’s own definition are meant to fund just these types of extras.

So why the program cutbacks?

Because of the state’s refusal to meet its obligation to amply fund basic education, our local schools have been forced to bridge the gap with levy money.

This patchwork approach has been going on for years. It is the reason students in Tumwater and Olympia now pay to play sports as one example.

It is also why local voters should demand of their legislators that they properly finance education as is their constitutional mandate. After all, the Tumwater and Olympia communities should not have to volunteer, fundraise, and finance extra programs when they have previously taxed themselves to do just that.

DAVID JOHNSTON, Olympia Education Association & TERRY VANMETER, Tumwater Education Association

Overcrowding in the future

Many Olympians might not be aware that two large neighborhoods are proposed to be built in southeast Olympia.

The first one, Bentridge, would be built on 71 acres of forest on Boulevard Road between Morse Merriman and 41st Avenue (between Newcastle neighborhood and LBA Park). It would have 501 residences and a commercial center.

The second development would be called Trillium and be located east of Bentridge in the same forested area and would be of a similar size.

There was much protest against the Bentridge neighborhood village when it was proposed to the hearings examiner on July 13. One party that testified at the hearing was the Olympia School District, saying that all schools in the service district of Bentridge (McKenny, Centennial, Washington Middle and Olympia High) were already over capacity.

OSD stated that if the project was approved, it would bus the new students to outlying schools or redraw neighborhood boundaries to accommodate the big influx of students.

This plan goes against current thinking that locating schools within walking or biking distance of a student’s home is the healthiest way to foster community, protect the environment and encourage healthy transportation habits for students and their families.

On Aug. 18 the hearing examiner recommended denial for the Bentridge master plan because it fails to provide for school concurrency as required by OMC 15.04.030. It was appealed and denied again.

The Olympia City Council will conduct a briefing on the master plan on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

LYNN BYRNES, Olympia

Licensing fees are out of hand

A recent editorial about the Board of Accountancy interested me in that Auditor Brian Sonntag needs to take a hard look at the board and its practices.

I feel the same about the Department of Licensing! I am a licensed hairdresser. In the cosmetology division, the board of licensing is going to raise our license fees 120 percent from $50 to $110.

Today, two licenses are required: a beauty operator license and the personal service license. The beauty operator fee went from $40 to $50, which is not bad since it is for two years. The personal service fee is $110, up from $50. A third license is required if you have a salon. It also went from $50 to $110. Add several hundred for liability insurance and it amounts to a healthy bite.

With beauty supplies on the rise, it can be financially impossible for someone to work part time.

Unlike those people who determine our license fees, we buy our own health insurance.

We have no sick leave or vacation and no pension funds, yet they are comfortable raising our license fees 120 percent! I am sure they are raising the fees at every level of every business across the state.

I would like an accounting of what they are charging other occupations.

I would like Auditor Sonntag to see how well they are handling my license fees.

A 120 percent increase tells me I must not have been supporting them the way they wished to be!

YVONNE V. CONWAY, Olympia

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