October 22, 2011 in Washington Voices

EV considers February school levy

District plans to ask for $10.9 million
By The Spokesman-Review

School districts across the region will very likely put a replacement levy on the ballot in February. The East Valley school board met with teachers and administrators Wednesday to discuss the upcoming campaign and the message needed to get across to voters.

“We have got to get parents here, folks,” Superintendent John Glenewinkel told the group. Community involvement is key, since the district is not allowed to use school resources or time to campaign.

East Valley is considering running its replacement levy in February, when most other districts in the region will put their levies on the ballots. This year, East Valley is planning on asking for $10.9 million in anticipation of losing levy equalization funds from the state. East Valley receives $1.8 million in levy equalization funds. The last levy approved by voters in the district was $9,097,000.

“$10.9 million maintains the status quo,” Glenewinkel said.

Glenewinkel said the district rolls back funds to taxpayers every year when the funds are not needed, and if the state doesn’t cut as much or contributes any of the levy equalization funds the money will be rolled back to voters. This year, East Valley is rebating $707,000 to taxpayers.

Levy funds support such programs as music, libraries, counselors, sports, extra transportation, AP classes, technical classes, enrichment classes and more. Levy funds account for 28 percent of the district’s budget.

Executive Director of Operations Brian Wallace said East Valley is currently collecting $3.68 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The district’s bonds have been paid off, so all they are collecting now is levy funds.

“We’re the lowest cost per thousand in Spokane County,” he said.

That number could jump to around $4.42 per $1,000, a difference of $0.74.

Glenewinkel pointed out that of the people who live in the East Valley School District, 85 percent who vote don’t have children who attend school in the district.

“East Valley has never failed a levy,” he said. In the last levy election 57.93 percent of the voters approved the tax.

Levy elections only require a simple majority of 50 percent to pass.

The first order of business for the district is to create a levy campaign committee. The group decided to hold its first meeting Monday at 6 p.m. at the high school, 15711 E. Wellesley Ave.

Glenewinkel stressed again the importance of community involvement, and many teachers suggested parents to involve in the campaign. Teachers said they are looking forward to getting out the details to share with parents.

“We have got our work cut out for us,” he said.

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