The struggle to pass the 2022 CKSD levy vote

In April 2022, the failed levy went back to the ballot for a special election. After the community voted to pass the levy through, educators reflect on the struggles and affects of this election cycle on schools in CKSD.


Lucas Roger

Local voters’ ballots were turned in at the ballot drop box at the Jenny Wright Central Kitsap School District Building.

by Lucas Roger, Reporter

On Tuesday, April 26th, 2022, ballots for the second and final round of voting for the local Central Kitsap School District levy vote were due. This levy was a two-year replacement levy to fund Central Kitsap School District beyond the federal and state funding granted to the public schools.

During the first round of voting in February, the levy failed by a margin of 430 votes which was a measly 2.86%. The results were so close that the school district was granted a special election to allow the community to reconsider. 

The levy passed after the special election and was certified on May 6th, 2022. Levies are integral revenue providers for the district, allowing for up to about $20 million in funds per year. The individual levy rate for Central Kitsap taxpayers has been set in recent years, at $1.50 per $1000 of the assessed value of taxable property owned in the district. This rate remains the same for the current passed levy. 

Levy funds provide a multitude of services and extracurricular activities to all schools in the district: arts and sports funding, support staff, textbooks and classroom materials, etc. 

Mandatory federal and state funding provides a strong basis of support for the district’s yearly budgets and expenditures. State funding typically goes towards funding the core traditional classes like English, Math, History, and Science as well as a few other services. Additionally, federal funding is spent in areas like Career and Technical Education, food services, and special education. All government-provided funding is non-discretionary; the school district must spend the money as it is instructed to, leaving little to no room for extracurricular activities or choice in where and how the funds are spent to best serve the students and community.

One area where the principal source of funding comes from levy revenue is school district libraries. Of the up to $20 million raised each year, 7% goes to maintaining school libraries and their materials.


The CKSD official breakdown of where levy funds are allocated throughout the district budget. (Credit: CKSD Levy Information Page)

Steve Trunkey, the librarian at Central Kitsap High School explains the method used to calculate how much money the district budgets to libraries each year, “The state provides funds according to what they call a prototypical model… there’s a formula to determine, for example, this school. We have enough students here to fund 1.4 librarians. But every other school it’s some percentage less than one.” 

Trunkey has been employed in the district for 32 years and has seen many levy campaigns flourish and fail over the years. If the levy had failed in the special election the school district would have been forced to make some tough decisions about where to allocate the mandated federal and state funds to best preserve services to the community served by CKSD. 

“There’s a whole process that begins to triage and decide which programs on this list take the biggest brunt of the impact…” Trunkey continued. “In past levy failures, we had school board members and superintendents who felt that sports were more important than libraries and we hope that it won’t be that way.”  

Another librarian, Jennifer Roger from Cougar Valley Elementary, shares her perspective and involvement in the special election levy vote, “I attended the campaign meeting with my principal and other CKEA members from my building to get information. And then we brought it back to our buildings and I held two different meetings in my building to share information with staff in my building.”

After the failure of the first election, the district relied heavily on CKSD staff to promote and campaign for the special election levy this year. 

“At one of the meetings, I went to, to learn information to bring back to my building we felt very pressured to donate money for the lobby to run the campaign and a lot of people really felt like the community should be stepping in and trying to keep our schools running and being better schools, not just the teachers doing it without any community support,” Roger elaborated.

In terms of civic responsibility and efficacy of the Central Kitsap community, the efforts seen throughout this election cycle were considered dismal and lackluster by some CKSD educators.

“This year, the civic responsibility I felt was very different than in past levies. I felt like this year, teachers felt like they were already doing so much that they are really wanting to have more community buy-in and that the community should be stepping in and supporting the levy and teachers shouldn’t be doing it all,” Roger continued.

Despite facing a myriad of challenges, the levy passed and will fund Central Kitsap School District for the next two years. It is possible that the struggle to gain community support and involvement may spark a change in strategy for future campaigns but for now, students and educators alike can rest assured that the programs and services they rely on are here to stay.