After one win and a loss in its last two elections, the East Valley School District is hoping next February’s ballot will put it over the .500 mark.
The EVSD board of directors approved the placement of a maintenance-and-operations replacement levy in the Feb. 14, 2012, special election at its last meeting on Nov. 8. The vote passed by unanimous margin.
Funds from the four-year levy comprise 28 percent of the district’s operating budget, covering the salaries of 25 teachers as well as programs like sports, music, art and theater. Areas like transportation, counseling, textbooks and building maintenance are also dependent upon levy dollars.
“You go to a soccer game or a football game, and they are 100-percent levy supported,” said East Valley Superintendent John Glenewinkel. “You’re talking about 28 percent of our budget and programs that are vital to our district.”
The levy would bring in just over $10.97 million in 2013 and set the tax rate at approximately $4.44 per assessed $1,000 of property value. Like the Central Valley School District, EVSD has chosen to include state levy equalization dollars in its total amount. The district currently receives approximately $1.8 million each year in state funds.
The latest proposal from Olympia would restore 50 percent of those dollars, meaning a reduction in the rate from $4.44 per $1,000 to $4.07. A full reimbursement of the state match would keep the rate at its current total of $3.68 per $1,000.
East Valley passed its last maintenance-and-operations levy in 2009 by 58 percent, the lowest margin among the four Spokane Valley school districts to run that February. Levy votes in the Central Valley, Freeman and West Valley school districts each earned over 60 percent.
In November 2007, House Resolution 4204 passed on a statewide ballot, changing the required margin in a levy election from a supermajority (any percentage over 60) to a simple majority, or any margin above 50 percent.
Capital facility initiatives still call for a supermajority, a goal that EVSD fell short of earlier this year when it ran a $33.75 million bond that would have supported a variety of renovation projects throughout the district. Less than 39 percent of voters cast their ballots for the idea in April.
Ruth Gifford, co-chair of the citizens committee on behalf of the levy, said the issue of rallying voters – especially those who voted against the bond – would be a key in February.
“That’s the million-dollar question,” Gifford said. “We’re just trying to convey the message that this is really important.”
Gifford, who also served on the citizens capital facilities committee, said the latest campaign will draw lessons from the election in April. Doorbelling and yard signs probably won’t be as much of a priority this time around, based on factors like the weather and a smaller budget.
The district is also dealing with some residents less-than-enthused about the restructuring to a K-8 program that began this year.
“We want to make sure people know this is a renewal, not a new tax,” Gifford said. “We’re asking people to talk with their neighbors about it.”
The Central Valley School District announced a $27.1 million programs and operations replacement levy last month that breaks down to an estimated $4.19 per $1,000 of assessed property value over a three-year period. West Valley and Freeman are expected to announce plans for their replacement levies at their respective board meeting in mid-December. In order to qualify for the February ballot, districts must file with the Spokane County Elections Office by Dec. 30.
West Valley spokeswoman Sue Shields said the main question remaining in the district is whether to run a technology replacement levy on the same ballot as the maintenance and operations levy. WSVD passed both levies with over 60 percent of the vote in 2009.