Camas, WA — The politics of this week’s two Camas School District (CSD) levy votes are heating up as “No to Levy” campaign signs have been reported as stolen or defaced, said campaign organizers and the Camas Police.

Forty-six signs have been stolen, said Heather Wynn, a member of the nearly 1,000 member Open Camas Schools group, which is behind the campaign against the two replacement levies. 

Wynn and several members of the Open Camas Schools group have distributed 100 signs throughout district boundaries, and have continued to monitor locations since the end of January.

One “No to Levy” organizer caught one woman stealing the signs last week and reported the incident to police. She was charged with a misdemeanor (case #21-0109) by Camas Police Officer Braunstein.

Local residents have received special February election ballots for two levies as the current Educational Programs & Operations (EP&O) levy and the Technology capital levy will both expire in 2021. CSD is asking voters to consider approval of two replacement levies (an EP&O and Technology, Health, and Safety capital levy) that will allow CSD to continue the same level of service students, teachers and families have enjoyed for decades.  

“I feel it’s a very misunderstood side that we’re on,” said Wynn. “The personal reason I am against the levies — and until now I’ve always been supportive of — is because I feel the district and school board are not moving fast enough to reopen schools. It is one of the only leverage points we have. People get upset about us saying that. They feel it’s negative and unfair to use that word ‘leverage’ because it they don’t want us to use that word for something they see as beneficial to the kids.”

Wynn said their side is trying to use it as leverage to benefit kids in the following ways:

“One, we need to be heard, and it will speak volumes; 2) We know they can ask again. Our sign literally says ‘ask again’; 3) The kids’ voices need to be heard; and 4) The known fears, the real fears that are seen by us as parents are depression, anxiety, lack of education, lack of social growth, so many things are being suppressed for a ‘what if’ fear, which is COVID in the schools. They are catering to the ‘what if?’”

They are also contesting “guidelines” vs. “requirements.” Wynn said there isn’t universal guidance from state to state. 

Vote No Levy sign at the Camas School District administration building.

“It doesn’t make any sense. They’re choosing the what if’s over the knowns,” said Wynn.

Last Thursday parents Andrea Seeley, Wynn, Ela Wunderli, Dan Wunderli, and Mike Hubbell met with Camas Schools Superintendent, Dr. Jeff Snell.

In the meeting, Snell said the barriers to getting more kids in class sooner are the very Department of Health guidelines, which include the six-feet physical distancing, and a slow rollout of the vaccines. The group isn’t fighting face mask wearing.

He encouraged the group to lobby to get vaccines faster to the teachers. 

“I want Snell to admit that we’re following guidance, but they’re making people think we don’t have a choice,” said Wynn. We do have a choice. We have a choice to NOT follow the guidelines.”

So, these are the reasons why the Open Camas Schools group is campaigning against the levies, and it’s also why they’re frustrated there are ongoing efforts to remove their signs.

“It’s not OK to be silenced because we have a different view,” said Wynn.

And, another Open Schools advocate, Bill Criddle, said this:

“To me, schools and government should run like real life and business. If there is an acceptable return then people are willing to put out the investment. When there is not a satisfactory return then the investment is diminished. School districts and government feel that they should get the money no matter if they are providing the adequate service. I’m not okay with that. Why should we be forced to pay additional taxes with no guarantee that the expected services will be provided? They need to prove that they will provide these service and then I and most of the people I know would be happy to support the school district financially. That’s why the signs say ‘ask again’! We want to support the schools but we need them to support our kids first!”

What is the short and long-term fallout if the levy fails?

“Well 20% of a budget is the equivalent of one out of every five days being cut,” Snell said. “Obviously, we just can’t cut one day per week, so it would result in loss of extracurricular activities, programming, and additional staff support. It would make Camas look dramatically different as these activities outside the school day would no longer have a funding source. It could be up to a 10-15 percent staff reduction.” 

Wynn also kept a record of signs that were stolen or defaced.

Stolen Sign List

January 28-29

2 — on 242nd Avenue

1 — Dorothy Fox

1 — Fern Prairie Market

1 — Crown Road near Camas High School

1 — 6th Street at Roundabout

February 1-2

2 — bottom of Sierra and Lake Road

1 — Pacific Rim Blvd.

February 2-3

1 — back entrance to Camas Meadows Golf Course

1 — Woodburn Elementary

3 — bottom of Lakeridge and Lake Road

1 — Dorothy Fox

1 — 38th by Cube Storage

1 — Entrance to PBL

1 — attempt at 18th & Klickitat

February 4-5

1 — Brady and McIntosh and replaced

1 — Park & 38th

1 — 242nd & 44th

1 — 28th & 232nd 

1 — NW Astor & 41st

2 — Deer Creek subdivision

1 — 38th by Cube Storage

2 — 23rd by Lacamas Elementary

1 — 232nd and Weakly

1 — 283rd end of WBE property

1 — Everett & 23rd at Camas School District Administration building

1 — Sierra & Lake

1 — Dahlia & 38th

1 — 44th & Astor

1 — entrance to Grass Valley Park

1 — Fremont & McIntosh

1 — Ogden & 16th

February 6-8

1 — Fremont & McIntosh

1 — Dahlia and 38th

1 — 41st and Astor

1 — 242nd 39th 

1 — Dahlia & 38th

1 — 41st & Astor

1 — 242nd & 39th 

1 — Dallas & 15th

1 — Dallas & 7th 

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