Voters in the College Place School District would be wise to approve the four-year school levy to keep the positive momentum for education in the community.
Levy funds make up nearly a third of the district’s annual budget. Losing the local funds would be an educational catastrophe.
Your state taxes are supposed to fully fund basic education, but that’s not happening right now. The state Supreme Court has ordered the Legislature to beef up school spending.
The state budget is still pinched, which means more money for schools isn’t available in Olympia. This makes local levies essential.
Nearly every district in the state counts on levies to fund a variety of programs. Most districts need levy funding for about 20 percent of their total costs, but in College Place it’s 31.6 percent because of funding formulas related to the student population and its tax base.
Levy funds support technology programs, sports programs, special education programs, building maintenance, nursing, transportation and much more.
As College Place moves forward with adding a high school next school year, the levy dollars remain critical. Thanks to the generosity of the voters approving a $38.5 million bond two years ago, the district is building a new Davis Elementary building to replace the out-of-date patchwork facility where Davis was housed. Sager Middle School will take over the Meadow Brook Intermediate School building. And the high school will be built on Sager’s current location.
CPHS opens with only a freshman class. A grade will be added each year as the district grows into a full-service kindergarten through 12th grade district. To this point, all of College Place’s public high school students have been attending Walla Walla High School.
As students start attending CPHS, the district will be sending fewer dollars to Walla Walla to pay for the students attending Wa-Hi. Next year the district will send about $600,000 to Walla Walla, about $200,000 less than this year. In three years it will drop to zero.
Because of those savings, as well as having a more efficient Davis School that doesn’t need constant repair, the district has kept its levy request the same as the current levy of $2,980,000. Over time as new construction occurs and property values rise, the taxpayers will be paying less and less each year.
The rate for 2014, the last year of the current levy, is expected to be $3.36 per $1,000 of assessed property value. It is anticipated the rate will drop 3 to 4 cents a year. In 2018 the rate is projected to be $3.23 per $1,000.
The College Place request is reasonable. We urge voters to approve the four-year College Place school levy on Feb. 11 ballot.