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Central Valley School District seeks $11.8 million in February special election

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 21, 2020

The Central Valley School District in February will ask voters for $11.8 million to hire a public safety employee and continue offering electives and extracurricular activities. (Rebecca White / The Spokesman-Review)
The Central Valley School District in February will ask voters for $11.8 million to hire a public safety employee and continue offering electives and extracurricular activities. (Rebecca White / The Spokesman-Review)

The Central Valley School District next month will ask voters for $11.8 million to hire a public safety employee and continue offering electives and extracurricular activities.

The school district, like many in Washington, had its levy rate reduced when the Legislature passed education reforms in 2017. The district currently collects $1.50 for every $1,000 of assessed property value and is asking voters to increase that amount by $1 for the 2021 fiscal year.

About 80.7% of the district’s budget comes from the state, and most of the rest of its budget is paid for by local levies.

Central Valley Superintendent Ben Small said the state doesn’t cover “anything extra” that the school provides, such as most school nurses, librarians, sports and after-school programs.

“The state really doesn’t fund innovation,” Small said. “That innovation has to come from our local levy and our sources, and (we) figured out how we can continue to provide different programs and better programs for our kids.”

Small said the levy would sustain existing levels of services for students and pay for one new employee. The district currently pays for two school resource deputies from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and the city of Liberty Lake pays for a school resource officer at Selkirk Middle School. The district also pays for two other district safety employees.

The levy would add funds for an additional employee who would work to keep schools secure.

Small said the school district has not yet determined what specific programs would be cut if the levy does not pass, but it likely would be elective classes, after-school programs, sports for middle and elementary schools, and employees such as librarians, extra nurses and custodians whose positions are not funded by the state.

The goal of the levy is to sustain the “current level that this community has come to expect from its education system,” Small said.

The school district has been constructing new schools, renovating existing buildings and changing its boundaries for the last several years and expects its newest campus, Ridgeline High School, to open this fall of 2021. The levy money would be used for staff members and programs, not capital projects or construction.

This levy would last for one year. Next year, the school district may return to voters to request the full $2.50 it is allowed to collect, and that levy likely would last for three or four years, Small said. That decision would be up to the Central Valley School Board.

Ballots will be mailed starting Wednesday and must be returned by Feb. 11.

This story was corrected on Jan. 21 to reflect that Ridgeline High School will open in the fall of 2021 and that Liberty Lake school resource officer is paid for by the city of Liberty Lake.

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