Voters should approve College Place schools' four-year levy

The levy is essential as it raises about 24 percent of the district's overall budget.

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Voters in the College Place School District should approve the district's four-year school programs and operations levy on the Feb. 9 ballot. This district simply could not operate without the local funds this levy will provide.

The levy accounts for about 24 percent of the College Place School District's overall budget.

If the levy fails the cuts to teachers, staff and programs would be deeper in College Place than in most school districts because College Place sends its high school students to Walla Walla High School. College Place is obligated by law to pay nearly $600,000 a year as compensation to the Walla Walla School District. That payment has to be made even if the levy isn't approved.

The levy request is not a new tax, but a replacement for the levy approved by voters in 2006. The levy, which will bring in about $2.38 million in 2011 and gradually increase to $2.98 million in 2014, will fund basic school programs and operations.

Securing the levy funds allows the district to receive additional funding through the levy equalization program, which allows districts with smaller tax bases to get on even footing with other districts. The College Place School District received $315,000 in levy equalization funds last year.

The levy funds also pay for the district's gifted education program, special education and transportation. Music and sports programs are also funded by the levy funds. And some of the cash is used for teaching positions that are not funded by the state.

Given that about a third of the money is used for sending College Place students to Wa-Hi, it is imperative that this levy be approved. The cuts that would have to be made would be devastating and unacceptable.

College Place officials are not asking for the maximum allowable by law. The levy amount being sought is what's needed to meet the district's financial obligations and to ensure College Place students get a quality education.

The cost to property owners is estimated at $2.57 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2011 and topping out at $3.04 per $1,000 in 2014. It's likely, however, the actual rate will be lower as new homes are built and the overall value of College Place property increases.

We urge voters to approve this reasonable tax assessment that provides nearly a quarter of the funding for College Place schools.

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