Letter to the editor: Please support our schools


Voters in the Edmonds School District will soon be receiving a ballot (due Feb. 8) for the district’s Education Programs & Operations Levy. This is not a new tax!  Every four years the district must ask voters to renew the existing levy that covers essential staff, materials, and programs that are not funded by the state. The tax rate remains the same as the current one. This levy is very significant to the health of the district, covering about 15% of the budget.

To illustrate the importance of passing this levy, it provides additional nurses and counselors over the very small number funded by the state. It funds our extracurricular courses, including athletics, music, art, and drama. It funds courses that prepare our students for college and beyond, including STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), Advanced Placement, IB, College in the High School, and more.

Whether or not you have children or grandchildren in the district, the strength of our community is dependent on the quality of our schools. Businesses and potential homeowners do not want to locate in a community that does not support the schools.

Detailed information and a helpful video are available at http://tinyurl.com/ESDlevy.

Please support our students, schools, and community by voting for the Education Programs levy by Feb. 8!

Thank you!

Nancy Katims, Edmonds School Board President

45 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Please support our schools”

  1. After seeing how our school system wasn’t good to us the past two years, I have very little incentive to be good to it

  2. “Public school officials consistently say they don’t have enough funding, yet each year they give $3.5 million in public money to one of the largest political lobby operations in the state. The Washington State School Board Directors Association (WSSDA) uses money taken from local education budgets to lobby state lawmakers and influential local officials across the state.
    Local school boards tell us they are chronically underfunded and they regularly cut music, art, athletics and other popular programs. The legislature should end the transfer of public money to WSSDA and instead direct $3.5 million a year to benefit music, the arts and athletics in Washington’s schools.”
    Then there is the Lottery that was passed years ago promising all money would go to the schools, more misappropriation of money. Time to say no more.

  3. or maybe…

    Address all of your concerns to Dr. Balderas, superintendent – in an open forum???

  4. According to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, only 63.1% of ESD students met ELA standards. Math and Science were worse — 52.1% and 44.3% respectively. ESD is not even in the top 100 of the State’s 325 school districts. The best district (Snoqualmie Valley) for the same categories in order are 79.4%., 72.3% and 62.3%. School per student expenditures — Edmonds $15,257; Snoqualmie Valley $13,634. Clearly the ESD is failing its students. In my view, this data does not justify a yes vote.

    In my humble view the ESD needs competition. Students need choice — private, charter, parochial — any school that can provide an education where a large majority of the students meet educational standards. I believe that this would be accomplished if government student expenditures followed the students as opposed to blindly going to the public pool system.

    Full disclosure, my two daughters did not attend schools in the ESD since the ESD had a poor reputation when they entered K – 12 over 40 years ago. I was fortunate to have an income that gave us a choice, resulting in their getting a private school education. I believe that all students deserve the same benefit.

    1. This is a great, insightful comment Gary. ESD not even top 100 within the state is shocking, given those funding numbers. Is it a problem of leadership within these districts that causes these disparate outcomes? I fail to see any other reason – lack of programs/money is definitely not it.

  5. No more taxes! The government takes what they want out of our families paycheck. The government then taxes every purchase we make and any investment to get ahead. The government taxes or homes, cars, gas, household needs. The school gets adequate funding.

    I no longer wish to fund government schools. I don’t believe they offer the best education. I want to see School Choice to make the schools more competitive and lean into what the parents want for their children. No more to never ending demands for more money. Demand the best for your children, not the top heavy over paid executives and the crummy curriculum. Demand School choice! Fail this levy!

  6. I fully support renewing this existing levy that is critical to the success of our public schools. My son has had a fantastic experience in the ESD, as have I on various PSO boards over the years. Thank you for writing this letter, and for all your hard work during these past few crazy years!

  7. Well, this article brought out people with grievances galore!
    According to the article, this is not a new levy. Rather it is the renewal of one already in place. So voting against this levy will cut funding already used for programs.
    I admit that I don’t know anything about the particulars of the Washington State School Board Directors Association. The associations with which I am familiar have dues collected from members which the leadership then may spend on lobbying efforts. It would be illegal to spend public money.
    Looking at standardized test results has merit. They provide useful information but not the whole picture of how a district, school or student are doing. From the data that Gary provided, EDS clearly needs to improve, but I don’t believe this proves that citizens should cut its funding.
    Saying a “system was not good to us” is a subjective statement that begs for explanation. Since the article explains that some of the funds generated by the levy go to athletics, drama and music programs, is the complaint that Edmonds students don’t win or perform well enough? Its hard to say.
    “No more taxes!” A popular refrain. Ben Franklin talked of its futility. Actually, is this an exclamation in favor of the levy? Ms Katims points out that it is not increasing one’s tax burden, simply maintaining it.
    I believe EDS is doing a very good job under extremely difficult circumstances. I don’t have any relatives enrolled in its schools or employed by it. I want children who I see in public places to comport themselves well. I want Edmonds to attract families with children. For this to happen housing must be affordable, which is a concern for another MEN’s article.

  8. Besides always supporting my community safety taxes as they benefit us all, I will also always support my community’s school levies and taxes. Each generation deserves a good education, a safe place to receive that education, and qualified educators to teach them. Educating our children is not without expense. And unfortunately like everything else, it’s become political. Those who work closest with children in classrooms, on the field, in the gym and for their next concert deserve our support. In addition the nurses who attend to their physical needs and the counselors who counsel them academically, socially, and psychologically continue to have increased caseloads. It is during this difficult time as children and educators that they are doing their best to survive this pandemic. There will be, as we already know, much fallout in schools from this pandemic. It is not a time to take funds away from our community schools. At the very least we need to maintain them at the current level as this levy is asking.

  9. This isn’t a new tax, this just renews the funding our schools currently rely on. Just because we’ve had a rough couple years with the pandemic messing up everyone’s lives doesn’t mean schools didn’t try their best given the situation, or that we should just give up on funding them now when kids need all the resources we can give them just so they can catch up on everything they’ve missed.. Support education, support teachers, support public schools. Good schools are good for home values too.

  10. Our household strongly supports this levy! Our experience in the Edmonds School District has been fantastic. This levy does not raise taxes but continues to fund important programs and staff in the district. Supporting local school is such an easy way to help create a strong community!

  11. “The tax rate remains the same as the current one.” Property owners need to understand that the tax rate is only one-half of the equation that determines the amount of taxes that will result from passage of this levy. The other one-half of the equation is the assessed value of their property. For Edmonds property owners average home values have increased by 27.4% since 2018 when the last levy was passed.

    1. Mr. Wambolt is correct. A great exercise is to go to the county website and access your property’s total new tax amount before you vote to make an informed decision. Hopefully, this new tax assessment information will be available before February and avoid sticker shock.

  12. Much depends upon the property value used by the school district in assessing the tax. According to a June 20, 2021 article in the Everett Herald, the assessment used by Edmonds School District may be an increase of 7.97% over that of 2020. This is the second lowest in Snohomish County and a lot less than 27.4%. According to the Herald the rise in property values relates to the high demand compared to the number of housing units available. For those of us who own property in Edmonds we see a paper increase in our wealth, and with it a potential increase in taxes. Those on fixed income may have difficuty.
    Please don’t take this out on our students. They deserve our support especially when our district board is spending the money responsibly. One proof of this is the development of district area housing for students facing homelessness, thus saving money in transportation.

  13. I think the need for passing a levy for schools, two years into a pandemic, should be obvious. Did anyone have an experience that led you to believe schools aren’t essential? Where are all the “the schools must be open” proponents? Should we have them open, but not adequately fund them? Have them open, but not teach AP classes or other special ed classes? Which other students’ needs should we ignore? Scrap athletics and / or music?

    Our kids, now grown, received excellent educations, kindergarten through HS, from ESD. They were accepted at dozens of colleges, awarded college credits for classes taken at their neighborhood public HS, and awarded generous merit scholarships. We believe all students should have equal access to the same excellent education our kids received, regardless of their families’ income. We will be voting for the levy.

    I have to ask why one commenter thought to compare the results of the standardized test scores for Snoqualmie, a district less than half the size of ESD. Is he aware of the demographic differences? 90% of the students in Snoqualmie are in wealthy families. Over a third of ESD students are in low income families. Is he aware that wealthy families can boost student performance on tests with private tutoring? Is he aware low income families may not even be able to access medical care, which will obviously impact test scores as well? Is he aware of the plethora of differences in demographics that unfairly boost some students and punish others?
    Again, we want to live in a community that values education, and provides it equally to all its students. Count us as yes votes.

  14. Our ESD educated child was in Paris shopping and the cashier was stunned when she learned our daughter was American and not French. She said her accent was perfect! I immediately put a shout out to Ms Landin, one of the wonderful foreign language teachers in the Edmonds School District! Public education does work. So many buy into the negative narrative and want to scrap the whole thing, totally bizarre. ESD has a well known music department too. I suggest, once Covid isn’t as disruptive, some of the negative and ignorant commentators get out to a jazz concert at one of our high schools or volunteer to see our successful schools in action. Might help their mood. Our teachers are working hard and doing their absolute best as always. I support them 100%.

  15. In 2020 and 2021, Congress passed three stimulus bills that provided nearly $279 billion as relief aid for education through the Education Stabilization Fund. Divide it by 50…it averages over $5 billion per state. Hopefully we can all agree that is a boatload of money. It would be good to know how much of this stimulus money went to the district and how that money was spent. Full transparency about the use of federal money in district finances, in particular this large infusion of “free money” over the last two years, would be helpful in assessing the reasonableness of this levy request.

  16. This levy does not raise taxes but funds important programs and staff in the district. Supporting our local schools help create a strong community! I no longer have a child in the district but I will always support the school levy.

    1. You are spreading false information that should not be on this site. The levy raises taxes as I described above. The tax rate remains about the same as the previous levy, but it is applied to much higher property values resulting in much higher taxes. Just ask the ESD.

  17. This is not a new tax, it is a renewal. Vote no and you are cutting funding. I received a great education in the ESD and so did my son. Although I no longer have a child in school I will vote yes and continue to support public education for the children of Edmonds. I would willing pay more in taxes to increase teacher salaries, provide more classroom aides and provide quality materials and building for our kids. Education is the key to opportunity whether a child goes on to a technical school, a college or university. A strong educational foundational is the key to lifelong success.

  18. Cannot think of a better or more important use of these funds. Our community and children greatly deserve the benefits of this levy. During these times of rising mental health issues in our youth, we cannot afford to cut the support of nurses and counselors let alone music, arts, drama, sports and other activities that bring much needed joy, friendship and balance to our kids’ lives. Thank you ESD. We support you and this levy 100%!

  19. The United States spends more per-capita on K-12 education than any nation. The US does not spend more per-capita on Healthcare (be wary of proving me wrong with statistics measured in PPP units). We have mediocre education but some of the best healthcare.

  20. Let’s take a look at this: the US spends more per-capita on K-12 education than any nation. One does not have to search long to find statistics that demonstrate otherwise. Buit what does it matter here? We are talking about Edmonds School District schools and students, not the United States. They are not mediocre to us. They search for excellence and desserve our support.
    Why bring health care into this discussion? It is not particularly relevant to our discussion about the school district’s request for the renewal of a levy.

  21. Support our citizens by voting “NO” on the Edmonds School District the day that you receive your ballot. This levy if passed will result in another significant increase in your property taxes. This is due to the unprecedented increase in assessed value of homes in all areas of the school district. While the district says this the tax rate will remain the same, it will be based on the assessed home value. This proposal will result is making the Edmonds area even more unaffordable for every resident that owns a home. While this proposal is being called a replacement tax it is significant to note that when passed 4 years ago the levy represented 23% of the operating budget and now the funding represents 15% of the budget for the next 4 years (due to the significant changes to school funding that occurred 3 years ago with the State of WA McCleary act). This levy description describes cost items that are not part of the core education program including nurses, extracurricular programs such as sports, music, drama and other items. With student enrollment significantly reduced in the district it is time for the citizens to re-evaluate this replacement tax and focus on the core education component of the budget. As you receive your 2021 Snohomish County tax assessment notices in the coming weeks please see the percentage of your taxes that are already allocated to the school district. In the midst of the pandemic, inflation, and other tax increases that are taking effect now is the time to vote no on this tax and keep Edmonds and the surrounding areas affordable.

  22. I have a question. Presumably this levy vote is a separate ballot. If correct, why? Why aren’t ESD levy and other funding requests included on ballots that have other items? Is there some requirement that ESD ballots be separate? Who pays for ESD ballots? Ballots aren’t free. Ultimately they are paid for by taxpayers. Combining multiple items on a single ballot has to be cheaper than having separate ballots.

  23. The Edmonds School District would be allowed to collect the following maximum for each of the four years:
    2023: $63,500,000
    2024: $67,100,000
    2025: $70,800,000
    2026: $74,800,000

    And it may actually be less. When you see the voter information you will note that the levy is structured with a maximum to be collected and a maximum tax rate. Depending on how much is added to the Assessed Valuation from new construction the tax rate needed to generate the numbers above may go down. Based on historical data the district expects the rate to go down by $.14/1000.

    Yes, our homes have increased in value but that may not mean an increased tax bill. For example, these numbers have been simplified to show the point. With a $10B AV to collect $10M the tax rate would be $1.00/1000. If all our homes went up in value at the same rate of 50% then the total AV would be $15B and the tax rate to collect the same $10M would be lowered to $.67/1000. A home once valued at $500k and now $750k (plus 50%) would pay $500 in either case. So if all of our values went up at the same rate our taxes would stay the same. Our individual values only determine our individual “share” of the tax bill.

    This is not an argument For or Against the levy but rather a clarification of the facts of how the taxes will work. When you make your decision look at what will be funded with the money and decide. The State has not adequately funded special education, school nurses, and other services we all expect but have allow us to locally raise those funds. These funds are for the items listed in the lead article. The ESD has not indicated how they would balance the budget if the $63m is not approved but a no vote will force that decision.

  24. As much as I admire good school teachers and good public schools, I’ve come to have a big issue with willingly voting more taxes on myself when it comes to property taxes in general. When you look objectively at the highly regressive tax structure in this state and how dependent we have become on sales and property taxes (of all sorts, including vehicle property taxes) as fall backs for everything we just must have to carry on, you have to ask yourself when enough is enough?

    We can’t tax income because rich people would have to pay more than poor people and that’s bad for Capitalism. We can’t tax capital gains because that is a de-facto income tax, so constitutionally out of the question. We can’t tax big corporation profits because they create jobs. We have to keep taxes low on the ultra rich among us because they give lots of money away for the public good thru their various foundations and charitable works.

    I’m just not going to voluntarily vote more taxes on myself. If I lose and they win, I will pay, but I think it has become way more than my personal share of it all and I protest with my vote because that and this venue are all I have to fight back with.

  25. Thank you for this, Nancy. If this pandemic has highlighted anything for me, it’s that we expect public schools to do so much without matching funding to those expectations. Teachers have had to adjust to virtual learning and back to in-person, with so many unknowns about what may happen throughout this pandemic. School facilities in our region have served as vaccine clinics, as a spot where families in need could pick up essential food, and now our school facilities are adjusting to serving students with Covid restrictions and social distancing in mind. Funding counselors and school nurses during this pandemic is crucial.

    Schools aren’t just where students go to learn. They are the place where students go to eat, to feel loved, to make friends, to experience people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives. They offer kids an opportunity to explore the arts, sports, music, and more. Being home with my kids during the pandemic gave me an even greater appreciation for what our public schools do for my children. Our lives have been so enriched by our schools.

    If those things I’ve mentioned above aren’t reason enough, I hope homeowners will consider how quality schools influence your property value. As we see more homes being built in our district and as schools have to serve even more students, I hope you’ll recognize how well-funded schools impact your property value and the people who live in your community. When I bought my home 11 years ago, the first thing I looked at was the local school ratings. This levy will help ensure our school district remains a desirable place to live. Even if you don’t have children attending district schools, investing in them brings a good return.

  26. Hum.. Lot of thoughts, all good ones too, from everyone here. For now I will vote no on this. I need to know exactly what is planned for this money? We don’t even know if school will stay open or not. If not then no one should be in them. I am sure the parents will figure out how to remotely educate during a close down. The report on how bad the test scores were here alarmed me when I saw them long ago…For now and always the Education part meaning Reading, writing, Science, Math all of the usual needed things for future education must be met before we go on day trips for nature study. Now i think this is cool but NOT in place of learning the basic skills required to get thru life college or not. So for this time a big NO from me and a Big no vote. Sorry I have voted for the others thru the years but now I see whats down there. I see the whole what 4block square filled with extra extra extra…we should have used it for books maybe huh… I want our schools to be schools and our social service agencies to be social service agencies. I think the result will be better too.

  27. Because I have seen and enjoyed a school concert, play, wrestling match and volleyball game, I will vote yes on the levy. Because a school nurse once diagnosed appendicitis for a relative and got him to the hospital quickly, and because a school counselor helped a relative get into the university of her choice, I will vote yes. I do not have children enrolled in the school district. Because my grandparents and parents paid school taxes after they no longer had children or grandchildren in school, I will vote yes as they did. Because I am fortunate enough to be able to afford to pay the levy, I will vote yes.

  28. I bet “whine” is the country’s most popular beverage!

    Has anyone commenting actually … reached out to the beneficiaries of the tax? The superintendent or any administer? “God forbid”…. spoken with anyone in …. “the union”? Or even attended any school meetings???

    As Mr Wambolt has pointed out – due to our financial system of “free market capitalism” while you may pay the same tax rate, the actual amount of money will be more. I bet you celebrate when you decide to sell your home! You just don’t want the accountability that goes with it.

    Rather than saying – it’s broken, how many people have actually even thought of trying to work with the system to … “fix it’??? or even describe the problems with the school district.

    I’m really tired of hearing – it’s broken, throw it out – without any hint of what you intend as a replacement.

    Remember, private schools are expected to have higher percentage ratings – they can pick and choose. Public schools (in theory) take everyone regardless their situation.

    Let’s hear from people that have actual experience working with the administrator, please.

  29. I don’t have any doubt whatsoever that the public schools need and deserve this funding from “the public”. My big concern is how our society defines “the public.” It strikes me more and more that “the public” in our state is increasingly seen as only the middle class that owns valuable property that can be taxed to the hilt because these property owning people have no formal organization or bargaining power to obtain fair taxation from everyone and every corporation in “the public” who benefits from good public schools. Why should the value of my home have such big significance on what I have to pay to have a good public school system?

    The fact is, the public schools are going to keep asking for me to voluntarily pay more of my personal wealth to support them as long as I’m willing to vote yes every time they ask. The only sure way I can hope to get the public schools to look for other source’s of funding (like gifts and taxes from large corporations and fat cats like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet) is to keep voting no. Who benefits more from good public schools than large corporations and business’s of all sizes from having an intelligent, well educated work force?

    I will start voting yes again on property tax levies when I see two things happen. When the ultra rich quit shooting each other into outer space and start voluntarily paying their fair share of the cost of having a decent and intelligent society. And when the politicians start taxing ultra wealth at significantly higher percentages than people of more modest means. Until then, my vote is a form of protest.

  30. Clinton, I agree with you regarding placing the brunt of contributions to the education of the next generation squarely on the shoulders of those that are able to own their own home!

    However, there is a “wealth defense industry” dedicated to allowing those with the most to hoard it and just take – see “The Wealth Hoarders, How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions” by Chuck Collins, https://www.politybooks.com/bookdetail?book_slug=the-wealth-hoarders-how-billionaires-pay-millions-to-hide-trillions–9781509543489

    Rather than contribute to society, i.e. through taxes, they invest in lawmakers and laws, at the federal level, think “K Street” corporate lobbyists. In this state they invested in a fear of a state “income tax.” At the federal level, the income tax is primarily for the worker person, not the wealth of the few at the top.

    For the last 1/2 century there has been a major push toward a government (and world) run by the few that hide behind major “for profit” corporations.

    These people – want – “public” education to fail!

    It’s unfortunate, but by not voting to tax yourself, you are actually helping their cause to take more for themselves 🙁

  31. So, Victor, we should just all give up and say it’s okay to treat us unfairly? We’ll happily be the sheep to be shorn in the interest of some perceived or claimed greater good. Personally, I’d just as soon go down fighting for what I think is right. It’s all a moot point anyway though, because my wife is planning to vote yes to cancel my no vote. You win again Mike Molly; stay thirsty my friend, we shall soon meet again to solve more major problems in person.

  32. Here’s a great FB share giving those who need it a good idea of what goes on in public schools.

    Today I taught 6 periods and subbed during my planning. I helped a young man find safe housing, a sweet girl secure a new winter jacket, replaced a student’s missing backpack, arranged for a replacement chromebook, made sure a student had food for this weekend and gave another a little cash for a haircut. I listened to a (lengthy) story about a new puppy, sat with a girl crying from cramps and supported a boy navigating his first heartbreak. I walked a new student to her next class, saved an art project with some super glue and wrote a card to a student I suspect is struggling right now. After that, I went to a meeting, tutored a student and tried to finish a college letter of recommendation that a student asked me for TODAY and needs by TOMORROW () In all, I spent 10 hours working at work and 4 more at home trying to plan fun, inviting lessons.

    I don’t want a single accolade.
    I don’t tell you this for gratitude.
    I don’t want your pats on the back.

    I want you to know that in your child’s school, 30-50 teachers and school support staff did this today. And we will do it again tomorrow.
    It’s what we signed up for.
    It’s what we love.
    It’s the reason we feel fulfilled.

    It’s also why we’re tired.

    Yesterday, a parent on a community online forum said that “it’s nice that teachers have finally decided to work” in response to our school being back in-person. I felt something inside shatter.

    I would encourage you to recognize that, even if you believe teachers and staff aren’t working – that we haven’t worked THE HARDEST in the last few years- nobody in the history of EVER has been motivated by ugly.

    Loving kids is the purest form of beauty there is. And it’ll outweigh your ugly all day.

    1. Thank you. Brilliant! And deeply true.

      I taught and coached all of working my life. Your statement is utterly and shiningly true.

      Some teachers even had two jobs to earn enough to continue teaching, which was their vocation. When we lost teachers, it was burnout and a wrenching, fundamental need for better pay to support their own families. “Time they got to work” is obscene and ignorant.

      Kids deserve the best, and the school years are critical. Support teachers and support the kids!

  33. Thanks for your great comment Bethany. I don’t know if you are referring to my comments when you use the term “ugly” or not, but if the shoe fits I’m happy to wear it.

    Here’s my view of what’s ugly in our world. The over protection and worship of extreme wealth to the point where we abuse people like yourself. We abuse people like you by expecting you to be not only a teacher, but also a social worker and supplier of learning materials in exchange for a very low income and very little honest respect.

    We abuse people like myself who have worked hard, purchased wisely, and been a bit lucky to have the American dream of a nice home and a few adult toys by taxing the hell out of us because we are willing to keep putting up with it. I’m sick and tired of greed and gross displays of personal wealth that aren’t beneficial to anyone, including the fools who have way more than they will ever need or use. I saw a tiny ray of hope yesterday in Jeff Bezos donating funds for the Everett School District to have a year around no charge Kindergarten program. We need to see lots more of that in the form of actually taxing these people to provide what we all need. I grew up in the top bracket high taxed fifties and I can assure you the economic pie pieces were cut a lot more evenly then than now.

  34. Well said, Clinton!
    It’s hard to believe any rational person can think that the “tax reform” Congress passed during the Trump term of office was positive except for the wealthiest in the country.
    A worthwhile change is one advocated by President Biden: raise federal income taxes only on those making more than $450,000 per year.

  35. As an aside to my comment above, the equality and fairness of our system in the 50’s was not shared with our Black citizens of the time. We can all take a great lesson from their leaders who stood up and demanded their rights to vote and an end to some of the hypocrisy of what we claim we are vs. what we really are. It is time for thousands of us middle and lower income folks to stand up just as our Black brothers and sisters did, beginning in the 50’s and 60’s, and demand that we actually become who and what we say we are. We are very close to being an oligarchy of the rich and that will not end up well for most of us.

  36. Whitney Houston sang it best, “I believe the children are our future
    Teach them well and let them lead the way
    Show them all the beauty they possess inside
    Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
    Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be…”

    Yet, how many children did the Edmonds school District teach in person in the years 2021 and 2022?

    1. I don’t understand your point Sam Walker. It’s no big secret that public servants are… public? That staff, be it blue collar on up to teachers, don’t deserve fair wages? Or that their pay needs to be diverted to the moldy, over crowded, have-not campuses and other district sites that get shot-down for funding by voters? Perhaps people that vote NO, can set-up to volunteer their time if they don’t feel other people’s kids and the staff matter.

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