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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Liberty School District asking voters for operations, capital levies in February election

 (Molly Quinn/The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Like several other school districts in the area, the Liberty School District headquartered in southern Spokane County is asking voters to approve two replacement levies on the February ballot.

The largest of the two levies is the replacement Education Programs and Operations levy, which was formerly known as the Maintenance and Operations levy and has been renewed for decades. The levy fills the gap between what the state provides in funding and what the district needs for full operations.

The levy would collect an estimated $1.52 per $1,000 in assessed home value for the next three years. When the levy was last renewed in 2021, voters approved a rate of $1.86 per $1,000.

“It’s a little less per thousand that the taxpayer has to pay now,” Superintendent Jerrad Jeske said.

The list of positions and programs funded by the levy, some in their entirety, is long. The money pays for all athletic programs and extracurricular activities, teachers to make class sizes smaller, special education programs, classroom supplies, curriculum, nurses, counselors and school safety staff. It also pays for building operation costs, utilities and insurance.

The cost of many of the things paid for by the levy has gone up, Jeske said.

“Even little things like insurance costs have gone up dramatically,” he said.

The programs and operations levy would collect an estimated $1.7 million in 2025, which would account for 17% of the district’s budget, Jeske said. “Obviously, the levy is huge in bridging the gap between the experience we provide and the money the state provides.”

The second levy up for renewal is the district’s Capital Safety, Security and Maintenance levy. It asks voters to approve an estimated 14 cents per $1,000 in assessed home value. This levy would collect only $175,000 in 2025, so no large purchases or improvements are planned, Jeske said.

“That’s just to maintain our technological equipment and keep our campus security updated,” he said.

The district plans to upgrade security cameras and other security systems, as well as pay for technology improvements and upgrades. That includes replacing some of the district’s Chromebooks provided for students. The district has drafted a replacement program for the Chromebooks so it doesn’t have to purchase a large amount at one time, Jeske said.

“We’re on a nice little rotation,” he said.

Together, the two levies are key to maintaining staffing and programs that affect every student in the district, Jeske said.

“All the students benefit from these levy dollars,” he said. “They’re vital for our experience here. They make up a huge portion of our budget.”

The levies require a simple majority to pass. Jeske said the district has seen steady support from the community in years past, and he hopes that continues.

“We’ve been very fortunate and grateful,” he said. “Our community over the years has always supported our schools.”

Ballots must be postmarked by Feb. 13 or dropped in designated election drop boxes by 8 p.m. Feb. 13.