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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Education

West Valley School District asks voters to approve replacement, capital projects levies

Orchard Center Elementary is photographed on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. West Valley School District is asking voters to renew two levies on the Feb. 9, 2021 ballot.  (KATHY PLONKA/Spokesman-Review)
Orchard Center Elementary is photographed on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. West Valley School District is asking voters to renew two levies on the Feb. 9, 2021 ballot. (KATHY PLONKA/Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver The Spokesman-Review

Like many school districts in the area, the West Valley School District is asking voters to approve a replacement levy to help fund school programs and activities.

The three-year levy would replace an expiring one. In addition to its Educational Programs and Operations Levy that funds school programs, the district is also seeking to renew its Technology, Safety, Security and Facilities Capital Projects levy.

The rate of the operations levy would be unchanged at $2.50 per $1,000 in assessed home value. “We are asking to maintain that,” said Executive Director of Finance Sam Schweda.

If voters approve the levy, it will trigger an additional $2.3 million annually in Local Effort Assistance Funds from the state.

The levy pays for anything that is not considered basic education. That includes nurses, counselors, STEM programs, athletics and activities like band, robotics, drama and art, said Superintendent Kyle Rydell. Some of the money also is used for teachers to help bring class sizes down.

“It touches every student in every building,” Rydell said.

The proposed renewal of the capital projects levy would increase the rate to $1.45 per $1,000 in assessed home value from the $1.08 per $1,000 the district was collecting before. But since a voted bond is expiring this year, the total amount the district is collecting would drop from $5.35 per $1,000 to $3.95 per $1,000 even with the increase in the capital projects levy, Schweda said.

“Our overall rate is going down,” he said.

The total rate of $3.95 per $1,000 is much lower than it has been in years past. It has been well above $6 per $1,000 before.

“It’s actually going to be the lowest it’s been in the last 25 years,” Schweda said.

The money collected through the capital projects levy will be used to make improvements to the schools. They are substantial projects, but not substantial enough to try to get voters to pass a bond, Schweda said. “All of our buildings are in good shape, but they all do need improvement,” he said.

The money will be used for projects to expand parking lots at Pasadena Park, Orchard Center and Woodard elementaries in an effort to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow. The work at Pasadena would include excavation and the installation of a retaining wall, as well as adding a second exit.

“Parents have gone more for drop-off and that can create congestion,” Schweda said.

The district is also looking to make HVAC system upgrades, Rydell said. “Our HVAC in our elementaries needs to be a focal point,” he said.

Some of the capital projects levy money also would be used to purchase new security cameras.

“We have some cameras that are retiring, I guess is the term,” Rydell said.

Voters must return the ballots or have them postmarked by Feb. 9. Ballot boxes are located at all Spokane County Library District branches. The levies require a simple majority to pass.

Schweda said he’s hopeful that voters will approve the levies, just as they have for decades.

“We’ve always had a great relationship with our community,” he said.

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