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Opinion: Supports replacement School Levy

Ferndale Friends and Neighbors…let’s talk about the Ferndale School District Replacement Levy and how this vote will directly impact our community, and for home owners how voting yes will protect our property values. This is very important, so if you are considering not voting Yes for the Levy, please take a few minutes to read this letter to make sure you are informed and fully understand what it will mean for our schools, community and property values if this levy does not pass.

As a lifelong resident of Ferndale, a property owner, A Realtor and as parent of an FHS senior (and one who has graduated), I am very nervous for the future of Ferndale if our community does not come together and pass this Levy. Hopefully everyone is aware that FSD will be asking voters to approve a two year operational levy renewal in November. (These funds are very different from the Bond funds. Bond funds can only be used for buildings and Levy dollars are used to help fully fund education since the State does not.) Operational Levies are not unique to Ferndale. All local districts rely on funding from levies to fund things like: sports, music, school nurses, counselors, librarians, fine arts, technology, para educators, teachers, electives at the high school level, etc. Sadly, Ferndale is the only community in our entire county who did not pass their levy in February and we absolutely need to get it right this time around.

Ferndale School District knows that many Ferndale families are struggling. They have made major cuts already so they don’t have to ask our community to renew the levy at the current rate. (If students were back in school, families would definitely feel the sacrifices the District was already forced to make in 2020 with layoffs and budget cuts.) If we approve this levy, our current tax rate would actually drop from $2.17 to $1.50, SAVING tax payers $.67 per $1000. So…if your home is valued at $400,000, this renewal will save you $267 per year (The District was hoping to renew at a much higher rate prior to Covid-19 impacts, but has made the decision to ask for the bare minimum. At this rate, there will still be many cuts).

As a Realtor and a property owner, I am extremely nervous for our community and our property values if we do not pass this Levy. Our property values will definitely be negatively impacted if people are unwilling to move to Ferndale because we have poor schools. (I already have had clients hesitant to move to Ferndale because they’ve heard the schools are struggling and the Levy failed; or clients who tell me they’d rather be in Bellingham for the better schools.) Many families will choose to move out of Ferndale to neighboring districts if this levy fails and who is going to want to buy a house in a district that has a poorly funded school district and lacks the basics like sports and extra curricular activities? Our homes values will drop as people move away and new families choose other cities with better schools. Great schools bring up our property values and poor schools drive them down- plain and simple!

For those of you who argue that FSD should be saving money right now while kids are learning remotely and that they aren’t providing adequate education due to Covid-19, please consider that kids will be returning to school soon and that creating an online learning platform for all students in K-12 was expensive. This levy vote will affect our schools for at least 2 years. What kind of schools do we want when our kids get to return to school is what we need to be asking? We need to give our kids hope that school will resume eventually and when it does, they will go back to the great schools they know. If we do not pass this levy, sadly the Ferndale Schools we all knew and loved will look completely different. Please vote YES next month. Our schools, our students, our community and our home values are depending on it.

Laura Rehberger
Ferndale


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