North Marion School District is appealing to voters on the Nov. 5 ballot to generate money for operating costs and capital projects, something that hasn’t been readily available to Oregon school districts in recent years.

We at the Independent endorse Measure 24-355 because it will help the district get back on its feet after six years of cuts.

While the money is not specifically targeted towards one item, it will be evenly distributed toward important projects, including textbooks, technology upgrades, programs, staffing, delayed maintenance projects and security upgrades.

In the past decade, staffing has decreased and student population has increased, so it makes sense that state test scores are suffering. By using some of the money from the supplemental levy to add more instructional assistants, the district could help those students who are nearly there but still aren’t hitting benchmarks.

There are numerous maintenance projects to be done on the campus, not the least of which is renovation of the heating and ventilation system at the 60-year-old high school. The late summer heat caused a severe distraction to students because of an outdated ventilation system, and administrators even say they contemplated canceling classes because of the sweltering heat indoors.

These are just a couple examples of how far the money from a levy could go.

If passed, the measure will generate an estimated $583,335 in 2014-15, increasing each year based on raised property values. On top of that, the district would qualify for a State Equalization Grant, which would match 53 percent of the proceeds of the levy, adding $309,168 to the total. What district would say no to $892,504 in the first year to restore services, complete much-needed capital projects and invest in improved safety measures?

Of course, everything comes with a price, but those living in the North Marion boundaries have one of the lowest permanent tax rates in the state, and it will still be lower than most, at 74 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. So the owner of a $200,000 property would pay around $12 a month.

This is the first time that North Marion has sought anything like this, and we think it’s a creative way to supplement a suffering budget. The Legislature’s special session last week may have resulted in more funding for schools, but that is temporary and unreliable. This money would be certain and would give North Marion patrons more of a vested interest in the community.

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