March 29, 2012 in Washington Voices

Riverside reduces local levy amount

By The Spokesman-Review

Voters must mail their ballots by April 17 in the following school districts, where levies cover about 25 percent of annual budgets.

Riverside School District

• Levy amount: $2.855 million in 2013; $2.883 million in 2014; $2.911 million in 2015

• Current annual cost per $1,000 assessed value: $3.09

• Estimated new rate per $1,000 assessed value: $3.42

Deer Park School District Replacement Levy

• Levy amount: $1.962 million in 2013; $2.001 million in 2014; $2.041 million in 2015

• Current annual cost per $1,000 assessed value: $2.46

• Estimated new rate per $1,000 assessed value: unchanged

Loon Lake School District Replacement Levy

• Levy amount: $226,000 collected in 2013-’16

• Current annual cost per $1,000 assessed value: $0.63

• Estimated new rate per $1,000 assessed value: unchanged

After failing once this year, some school districts will ask voters again to approve levies to support programs, staff and materials not covered by state funding.

At Riverside School District, Superintendent Roberta Kramer said the district isn’t asking for as much this time around.

In February, the district asked for $3.91 per $1,000 of assessed property value to offset a possible cut at the state level of levy equalization – funds given to property-poor districts. Kramer said it doesn’t look like the state will cut those funds, so they lowered the cost to taxpayers to $3.42 per $1,000.

They had also previously asked taxpayers for a capital facilities levy that would have provided for a new roof, improvements to the district’s technology infrastructure, improvements to some outdoor facilities and general maintenance.

That levy, which would have cost taxpayers an extra $1.46 per $1,000, failed in February. Kramer said the school board decided to take that off the table this time around.

“The feedback we received was pretty clear on that,” Kramer said.

Levies provide school districts with funds to cover programs, staff and materials that aren’t covered by state funding.

At Riverside, those levy revenues provide 22 percent of its annual budget. Programs funded by local money include all sports, band, choir, drama, all-day kindergarten, advanced placement and college readiness classes, textbooks upgrades, materials, minimal building maintenance and utility costs.

Kramer also said levy funds cover staffing that isn’t funded by the state. She said the state provides funds for 0.3 full-time equivalent of a nurse. A district the size of Riverside needs 2 full-time equivalent of nurses.

“That’s just an example,” Kramer said of Riverside’s staffing funds.

Kramer said voters have never rejected a levy twice in the same year and she feels confident the voters will support the district this time around.

School levies need a simple majority of 50 percent approval to pass.

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