For the latest: Click your browser’s “refresh” button throughout the Web cast for the latest analysis from reporter Jacques Von Lunen, who will be live-blogging the event.
Voters living in the boundaries of the Evergreen school district next month will be asked to approve a four-year, $180 million operations levy. Ballots for the Feb. 14 election will be in the mail starting Jan. 25.
In preparation for next week’s ballot mailing, Evergreen Public Schools hosted a live webcast to discuss the proposed maintenance and operations replacement levy. The webcast streamed on the district’s website and was simulcast on Comcast Channel 29 Wednesday evening.
Moderator Sharon Mitchell was joined by Superintendent John Deeder and Chief Operations Officer Mike Merlino.
6:00 — Live discussion with Evergreen superintendent and chief operations officer is starting.
6:05 — Superintendent John Deeder calls increase in levy “a little bump.” It’s scheduled to rise by 2.8 percent per year over the next four years.
6:08 — Mike Merlino says property taxes would go up by about $20 per year for median-priced home.
6:12 — Unlike some other agencies — fire departments, for example — school districts do not put tax rates on the ballot, and do not receive a set percentage of assessed value of all properties. Instead, they ask for a set amount of money. In this case, the district asks for $43.3 million for next year. The county then calculates the tax rate needed to raise that money, based on the most recent property values assessed.
6:20 — The rates for the next four years would be as follows (per $1,000 in home value): $4.19 in 2013, $4.42 in 2014, $4.54 in 2015 and $4.51 in 2016.
6:25 — Viewer question: How does Supreme Court decision affect levy? Deeder: We’re not hearing anything indicating legislature will fully fund us in the next six years. District is moving ahead as if nothing happened, he says.
6:32 — Health and Bioscience academy was paid for by state, federal grants and federal stimulus bonds, Merlino says. Capital money, by the way, may not be used to operate schools.
6:36 — Moderator is switching topic slightly, to talk about the budget in general. District cut $26 million over the last four years, since recession started.
6:38 — Additional state cuts will still trigger cuts in programs or staff. Levy money alone won’t save the district from doing that. State money makes up about 70 percent of the district budget. Local levies are close to 20 percent. The rest is federal and grants.
6:40 — The two district officials have answered very few questions from voters so far. It’ll be interesting to hear if that’s because of a lack of questions.
6:45 — Opening phone lines now: 360-896-4357
6:47 — Deeder says most likely some classes would have to be cut if levy failed. Would lose between two and 10 teachers per building, depending on size.
6:50 — Ballots are scheduled to go out Jan. 25.
6:52 — District reserves are 3 percent of total budget. That’s pretty low compared to many other districts around the state. Others have been able to compensate for state cuts out of their (larger) reserves.
6:54 — Evergreen voters have passed levies consistently since at least the 1970s, Merlino said. They usually do pass, even in districts where bonds for school construction fail, and even in these trying economic times.
6:58 — Reminder: Election is mail-in only. Ballots must be postmarked by Feb. 14.
6:59 — You can call the district’s election hotline at 360-604-4134 for more information.
7:00 Levy Talk ends.