Vote for schools today

A ruling last week in a lawsuit filed by parents, teachers, school administrators and others confirmed what everyone already knows -- the state doesn't provide schools with enough money to educate our children.

It's why so many Mid-Columbia school districts are asking voters to renew maintenance and operation levies in Tuesday's election.

Richland, Kennewick, Pasco, Finley, North Franklin and Prosser school districts are all holding mail-in levy elections. Ballots must be returned to county auditors' offices or postmarked by 8 p.m. Tuesday to be counted.

It's tempting to cut property taxes in these tough economic times, but failing to replace these levies means shortchanging our kids.

In every case, the levy isn't a new tax but a replacement for an existing assessment. Mid-Columbia schools depend on levies for about 20 percent of their budgets.

The programs and professionals that levies pay for -- from reading specialists to music programs to athletics to academics -- aren't frills but crucial elements of a good education.

For now, your vote to continue these levy assessments is the only realistic alternative for keeping our schools from cutting important programs.

In Thursday's ruling, King County Superior Court Judge John Erlick said experts agree, "Year in and year out, school districts, schools, teachers and parents have to 'cobble' together sufficient funding to keep their basic education programs operational."

In other words, without school levies to supplement the state's contribution, there isn't enough money for basic education.