Voters approve levies for Vancouver school district

3 years' operations, 6 years' technology funded by solid edge

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter

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School elections results

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Vancouver Public Schools continued a half-century tradition when its maintenance and operations levy passed handily Tuesday night.

The three-year levy was approved by 64.85 percent.

"We feel blessed to have 50 years of continuous support of our M&O levy," Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steven Webb said. "Vancouver values its children and its public schools."

The district's first technology levy also passed by a wide margin -- 61.58 percent. The $4 million annual levy will upgrade computers and provide technological tools for all students for six years: 2014 through 2019.

"This technology levy will allow the district to upgrade systems," said board member Mark Stoker. "It's not about the gadgets. It's about equipping our students for the future."

Local levy dollars make up about 19 percent of the district's budget. The majority -- 67 percent -- comes from state money. The rest comes from federal money and other sources.

The cost

The current three-year maintenance and operations levy expires in 2013. This year's collection amount is $43 million. The district requested $44 million for 2014, $44.6 million in 2015 and $45.2 million in 2016.

The M&O levy rate for 2013 is $3.71 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Projected rates per $1,000 of assessed property value are $3.85 for 2014, $3.86 for 2015 and $3.84 for 2016.

The 2014 projected amount is a 14-cent increase over the 2013 rate. For the owner of a $200,000 house, the 2014 tax would be $770, a $28 increase over the 2013 tax.

The technology levy projected rates per $1,000 of assessed property value are 35 cents in 2014 and 2015, 34 cents in 2016, 33 cents in 2017 and 2018, and 32 cents in 2019. For the owner of a $200,000 house, the technology levy will cost $70 in 2014.

What it pays for

The M&O levy pays for teacher and support positions; classroom supplies, textbooks and equipment; instructional technology and software; school safety and security; maintenance of buildings and grounds; staff training and professional development; extended learning; education for students with special needs; extracurricular activities and intramural sports; substitutes; portable classrooms; utilities, insurance and fuel; and student transportation.

The Citizens' Committee for Good Schools has "done a superlative job of educating people that this is about the future of our kids, the future of our economy," Rick Wilson, executive director of the Vancouver Education Association said.

Steve Bernhoff, co-chair of the citizens' committee, said, "The committee used traditional methods -- door hangers, radio spots and newspaper ads plus changing technology and social media. I think we've done a pretty complete job of getting the message out," The 23,405 ballots counted represent 29.57 percent of the 79,162 total registered voters in the school district.

Susan Parrish: 360-735-4515; susan.parrish@columbian.com; Twitter: col_schools.