SPOKANE -

The debate over school levies heats up as hundreds of parents, teachers and students rally in Downtown Spokane.

"We have had levies in our school district for 40 years, they've passed consistently, our communities have supported us and that needs to continue for us to maintain quality schools," said Ben Small, Central Valley School District Superintendent.

Nearly 400 people rallied in Riverfront Park Saturday morning to encourage voters to say yes to school levies. Billboards opposing school levies have begun popping up around Spokane. Citizens for Responsible Taxation is behind the billboards.

"There is so much negative publicity about the levy right now and I think this is great that there is a lot of positive energy about it to," said Miriam Maxwell, a parent and student teacher.

Right now, 13 school districts in Spokane County have levies up for vote. School district levies are funded by property taxes.

"The levies are absolutely critical funding for our schools, over the years the state funding has diminished and we've had to rely more and more on our tax payers for basic needs for our kids," said Melanie Rose with the Central Valley School District.

Rose said the current levy makes up 25 percent of Central Valley School Districts' budget. She said the levy up for vote in not a new tax and it would only replace the existing 27 million dollar levy.

"My kids need it, all these kids in the school district's need it. So many kids are going to suffer if it doesn't pass," said Maxwell.

However, Citizens for Responsible Taxation disagree. According to its website, "CFRT believes that spending our children's inheritance now is a major transgression against the long term welfare of the family, our nation, and violates the trust placed in us by previous generations of Americans."

Voters have until Feb. 14 to return ballots.

"Nothing else just vote. We have a right to vote and I think it's important that everyone vote, whether it's good, bad, yes, no. It's so incredibly important for this is to pass. But if anything just get out and vote," said Maxwell.