College Place voters to decide on school levy

The four-year levy would cover basic school programs and operations for 2011 to 2014.

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COLLEGE PLACE -- Area residents will be asked in early February to continue basic funding for College Place Public Schools programs through a four-year replacement levy.

College Place Public Schools Superintendent Tim Payne stressed that the measure is not another attempt at a facilities bond, but a routine request to maintain local funding for basic programs.

The four-year levy, to be voted on Feb. 9, would replace the previous four-year levy passed in 2006 that expires at the end of 2010. The new levy would cover funding of basic school programs and operations from 2011 through 2014. The measure requires a simple majority to pass.

If supported by voters, the levy would then secure additional state funding for the district through what is called levy equalization. The money is available only after the levy is supported by the community. Last year, the district received about $315,000 from the state through levy equalization.

The levy is a continuation of an existing tax, and helps covers such programs as the district's gifted education program, special education, transportation, a nurse to serve students, and the cost of sending high school students to Walla Walla High School.

The cost of sending high school students to learn in Walla Walla alone represents about a third of the levy, Payne said. But all the levy dollars go to vital district programs, he said.

"It impacts every aspect of what we do," he said.

The full cost of public education is split between the state, federal government, and individual districts. And while the state has always covered the majority of the cost, state support has continued to shrink through the years, putting more demand on federal and local funds.

The levy would cost tax payers about $2.38 million in 2011, with the amounts gradually increasing each year, to peak at $2.98 million in 2014.

The cost to property tax payers would be about $2.57 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2011, and $3.04 per $1,000 in 2014.

The increases represent the needs, but also the increased demand on local communities to share the cost of public education.

Payne said the greater need for local funding has pushed the district from classifying the levy as a maintenance and operations levy, to a school programs and operations replacement levy.

"That really doesn't depict what it is," Payne said. "A levy now has become about supporting basic education."

Maria P. Gonzalez can be reached at mariagonzalez@wwub.com or 526-8317. Check out her blog at blogs.ublabs.org/schoolhousemissives.

More on the levy

More information on the College Place Public Schools levy is available at www.cpps.org or by calling the district at 525-4827.

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