COLLEGE PLACE - Over the past three months I have been privileged to visit with many of you in our community about our proposed College Place school bond.
It has been an educational process for me, and as the current School Board chairman I believe that no matter the outcome of the bond vote, College Place is a better community for having gone through the process.
The College Place School Board has worked very hard to present a bond that provides the best long-term solution for education in College Place, with the information we have today.
One question that has come up repeatedly is, "Will the school district need to raise the levy rate to support the new schools, specifically for the high school?"
The College Place levy rate has averaged between $2.60 to $3.05 per $1,000 of assessed value, with our current levy rate at $2.72 per $1000.00 of assessed value.
The school district, as part of our application to the state to start a high school, had to prove that it had the financial ability to operate that school.
The district evaluated 16 other school districts of similar size and found that the current levy rate range was adequate.
The College Place School District already receives levy money from our residents to pay for our high school students to attend Walla Walla High School. As a district we send levy money each year, for each high school student, to the Walla Walla School District.
However, the College Place School District must pay the Walla Walla School District's levy rate, which is currently about $1 more than the College Place levy rate. The payment for the 2011 school year was $688,676.82.
It is important to remember that school levies and school bonds are for a fixed amount of tax. If the value of all the properties in the district goes up, or down, the amount of total tax collected from the residents of the district remains the same.
In addition, the state portion of school funding that comes from Olympia always follows the student. So when College Place students start attending a College Place high school, the state funds will come to the College Place School District.
On average over the last 10 years, we have sent 408 students to Wa-Hi yearly. Our proposed high school is estimated to be a 1A school for sports, which would allow us to play districts such as Connell, Quincy, Kiona-Benton and Granger, to name a few.
Whether we decide as a community to support a College Place High School or not, the fact doesn't change that we will pay for a school somewhere.
We can continue to pay Walla Walla to educate our high school students, or we can educate them here at home.
Recently a taxpayer gave me this analogy, "We can keep leasing our school space for our high school students, or we can become owners. I don't like to lease, I believe in owning."
To rebuild our current schools and add our high school, the estimated cost to the taxpayers of College Place will be approximately 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value more than it would be to send our high school students to Wa-Hi. The difference is that at the end of the bond we will own our schools.
On March 30 the ballots will be mailed for the College Place School bond and are due back to the Courthouse in Walla Walla by April 17 or they must be postmarked by that date.
Please remember to vote. It is a right that many have died for, and others around the world continue to fight for.
If you receive a College Place ballot then you are in the College Place School District.
Let your voice be heard.
Doug Case is co-chairman of the College Place Citizens for Schools and chairman of the College Place School Board.