Donation of land alters district's levy plans

Green Mountain official says language on ballot is no longer accurate

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

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A recent donation of land to the Green Mountain School District has moved a planned, levy-funded expansion of the district's campus forward — even if that's not included in the levy proposition's language.

No confusion intended, Superintendent Joe Jones said. The property owners donated the land after the school district had already sent the wording for its proposition to the Clark County Elections Office.

"The timing was unfortunate," Jones said.

The tiny school district of about 160 students seeks to pass a capital projects levy in the April 23 special election. With an estimated cost of 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value, the levy is intended to raise $70,000 in each of its four years.

But the language of the district's proposition, contained in ballots sent last week to district voters, says the levy would "finance land" and a two-classroom portable building.

Not quite.

With the land already donated, the levy would only go toward the portable classrooms, Jones said.

If anyone's confused, it's the owners of the property that was donated to the school district. They say they're surprised the district's proposition still refers to the levy being used to acquire land.

"A couple of weeks before the ballot came out, I (told the district), 'We'll give you the land and clear it for you,'" said Dick Colf, whose family owns the forestland adjacent to the school.

He said he thought it was clear in advance that his family would give the district the land.

Colf doesn't want to cause any trouble with the district, he said. But he does wonder whether the district's proposition could be viewed as misleading.

The district says that with the donation of less than an acre of land promised, it will be able to spend more of its levy resources on the new portable classrooms.

"We're grateful for the family's willingness to share that land for the benefit of our students," Jones said.

He said the district had set aside $15,000 for costs associated with buying the land. That money will be shifted to another aspect of the project, if the levy passes.

The district wants to expand by two classrooms because its growing ambitions have outpaced its current capacity.

Currently, the district uses a stage in its main building as a makeshift classroom because of crowding.

Eventually, the district would like to dedicate one grade level to every classroom.

If the levy passes, Jones said, the district plans to hold meetings so the community can review bid materials and stay involved.

He said he wants voters to have their say in the project as it progresses.

Tyler Graf: 360-735-4517; http://www.twitter.com/col_smallcities;tyler.graf@columbian.com