Rick Bannan / [email protected]
Voters in the Battle Ground Public School District will have the opportunity to vote on replacing an expiring local levy which, if approved, could mean sports returning to college for decades, or, if it is. refused, could deeply disrupt the operations of the district.
In the November general election, district voters will decide on a levy for education programs and operations, which would replace the district’s current levy from 2022. The levy funds programs and resources across the district, from technology in electives, building maintenance and transportation.
The district placed a levy on voters earlier this year, but the ballot measure was rejected when about 52.4% of voters opposed the measure in February. In July, the board of directors again approved a ballot levy for the November election.
The estimated royalty rate is $ 1.99 per $ 1,000 of assessed value on properties, lower than the current rate of $ 2.32 per $ 1,000 of assessed value. The new levy would cost residents about $ 123 less on their annual property tax on a $ 450,000 home.
If passed, the levy would raise $ 26.75 million in 2022, $ 28.2 million in 2023, $ 29.65 million in 2024 and $ 31.1 million in 2025.
“Not only is the rate going down, but the amount collected is also going down,” said BGPS Superintendent Denny Waters, as this year the district raises $ 28.3 million.
For the 2020-2021 school year, the levy represented approximately 14% of the district budget. When creating the budget for this school year, the district approved one that assumes there would be no levy in 2022, halving that percentage of funding.
The district has already experienced two failures in direct debit votes, most recently in 2006. The lack of direct debit has “far-reaching” effects, Waters said, adding that staff cuts are always the result of a collection failure. He noted that he joined the district as an assistant principal of Battle Ground High School after the post was removed from all schools in the district.
âWe had building managers who managed entire buildings themselves,â Waters said.
He added that past sampling failures had led the district not to have its own transportation or sports system in college, which he planned to reintroduce for the first time since the 1990s before the COVID-pandemic. 19 cancel those plans.
Besides the loss of quality employees due to staff cuts, Waters said it was difficult to recruit new employees given the risk that those hired would be out of work if the tax was not approved.
âYou sort of end up towards the required parts of education, so anything that is considered extra has to be put on the chopping block,â Waters said.
He listed the elimination of art and music programs, especially at the lower levels, reduction of bus routes and increasing class sizes as some of the impacts.
BGPS board chairman Mark Watrin said the educational requirements of school districts have changed since the last collection failures over a decade ago. He recalled one of the failures that had occurred while he was a teacher and in order to deal with it the district moved to a five-period day.
“It is no longer possible (to) allow children to graduate because the number of credit requirements is now greater,” Watrin said.
As part of planning for a no-draw scenario in 2022, the district’s budget for this school year reduced its reserve balance by $ 16.2 million, or nearly half of the reserves. Going forward without a levy would become more difficult because some of the remaining funds are tied to specific uses, Waters said, and could not be used for other purposes.
âWe were able to avoid (big cuts) this year because we had that fund balance,â Waters said.
If the levy is passed, the district plans to move forward with any curriculum adoptions that are due and plans to reintroduce sports to the college. Budget revisions would be approved by council in December. Waters added that the district may also consider filling some positions left vacant due to a hiring freeze.
Although the district could have resumed the levy as early as April, the board of directors decided to wait until the general election to put it back on the ballot. Watrin said comments indicated that community members were unsure whether the students would be back at school in person.
âWe thought that going in November would give us the greatest chance of having children in school,â Watrin said.
Waters and Watrin both acknowledged that community members who oppose certain district policies might decide to vote against the tax, although they noted the broad support for the tax district-wide.
âA lot of times people think of one thing they’re not happy with, but the tax is so all-encompassing in terms of the benefits it offers students, from transportation to downsizing class sizes, to sporting opportunities and to individual education, âsaid Watrin.