Pasco School District leaders say they need their levy to pass - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Pasco School District leaders say they need their levy to pass

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PASCO, Wash. -- The Superintendent of Pasco Schools addressed the Chamber of Commerce Monday, asking for their help to pass the district's upcoming school levy. They say money is desperately needed to fund some of the district's most basic programs.

Schools like Robert Frost Elementary need the levy to pass. Leaders say if it does not pass. basic funding for things like the curriculum, teaching, and libraries will be cut. On Monday, Pasco School Administrators made a plea to the Chamber of Commerce to help pass the 2012 Maintenance and Operations Levy.

It is not a new tax. The levy that will replace the expiring tax that was passed back in 2010.   Saundra Hill, the Pasco Schools Superintendent says, "these are vital dollars. They are not extras. They fund the core work of the school district."

School supporters are worried about whether the levy will pass. Jean Ryckman, with Pasco Citizens for Better Schools says, "the money has been decreasing as the number of students increases. We really have some challenges here in Pasco."

This new levy is a 4-cent decrease from what Pasco voters approved a few years ago, and every year their schools get more and more crowded. 

"We added 500 more students this year over last year and we expect that to continue," said Hill.

NBC Right Now Visited Robert Frost Elementary School. Administrators showed us what is at stake if the levy fails. One thing: libraries would be gone. Music programs, the arts, and maintenance are also all paid for by the levy. 

"We really need to have our children be able to have the same type of education that other children across the state have," said Ryckman. 

The levy is also needed in order for schools to continue to get equalization funding from the state.  Right now, Pasco Schools get significantly less money from property taxes compared to the millions that urban schools in the Seattle area receive. 

If the Levy fails, the district would have to cut about $30-million from the budget they have already put together to keep the schools running.