I would like to respectfully disagree with the views of Mike Wilson in his letter printed on Jan. 7. His representation of Mormons and "Mormon leaders" is grossly inaccurate.
I have found Mormons to be the most loving, caring, respectful people I have ever met in my life. They seem to be the first ones willing and able to lend a hand and serve others. I have seen this demonstrated by the church's ability and anxious desire to respond quickly to natural disasters around the world, to its individual members providing personal help to a community member in need, regardless of the person's race, religion, or sexual orientation.
"By their fruits ye shall know them." Despite what many would have us believe, being "for" traditional marriage does not equate with being "against" the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
For accurate information on the Mormon Church's stance on racial equality, I would refer Wilson and others to the church's official website, www.lds.org. There is a lengthy article about race under the section "Gospel Topics." I found this to be informative and accurate.
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Prosser schools: Yes
The Prosser School District is required to do many things not funded by state or federal governments. These are called "unfunded mandates," and they cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
The maintenance and operations money is necessary to comply with these requirements. Loss of the M&O levy would result in many resources and programs being eliminated or severely reduced. All extracurricular and sports programs, funded 100 percent by M&O levy money, would be in jeopardy. Staffing, food services, transportation and general maintenance may be eliminated or greatly reduced as well.
Please support the M&O levy as a community that takes pride in its schools and our future leaders.
DIANNE and SAL TORRES
Mid-Columbia schools: Yes
It is school levy election time again.
Washington's Constitution requires and the State Supreme Court has ordered our Legislature to fully fund basic education; they have not, so local taxpayers are asked to. It is an important local decision that provides the kind of educational opportunities and experiences each community expects its children to have.
A full 96 percent of school districts in our state must run levies. School districts can run levies every four years, but they cannot realistically budget that far ahead, not knowing what the state will fund, how many students will enroll annually or what new mandates or testing requirements districts must comply with.
In Pasco, the levy provides 20 percent of the maintenance and operation budget. This is different from the construction bond issue passed last year to build three new schools. Remember, levies help fund learning costs while bonds pay for buildings.
I urge voters in the nine school districts across the Mid-Columbia to be educated on their levy details and vote yes when your ballots arrive. Postmark them before Tuesday, Feb. 11. Tens of thousands of students and hundreds of employees in each of these school districts are counting on your support.
Pasco schools: Yes
I urge Pasco voters to approve Pasco School District's maintenance and operation levy Feb. 11. Levies pay for education programs and the day-to-day operation of schools. The funds bridge the gap between what school districts receive from the state and the feds and what it actually costs to run a school. Art, music, drama programs, elementary counselors, nurses, school security, transportation, portable classrooms, for example, are funded by levy dollars.
It would be nice if public schools were fully funded by the state. Then levies wouldn't be necessary. Unfortunately, levies are necessary and most school districts in Washington run a levy. Pasco School District is not proposing a new tax. This one just replaces the one that is set to expire in 2014. The proposed tax rate is $4.51 per $1,000, the same that was approved in 2012. Levies are for learning. Levies support every student. Please vote yes!