While the Legislature and the courts ponder how to fund public education, school districts have no choice but to continue an antiquated and unfair system. The state neglects its mandate to fully fund schools, so each district must continually beg local voters for money. (In the Vancouver district, levies pay for about 19 percent of the district's operating budget.)Levies expire, and five local school districts have scheduled Feb. 12 elections, with ballots being mailed this coming Wednesday, Jan. 23. Improving public education affects more than schools. It strengthens the local economy by elevating the workforce to 21st-century standards. That's why The Columbian endorses both a replacement levy for maintenance and operations, and a new technology levy in the Vancouver school district. We also recommend "Yes" votes in four smaller districts. Levy details are below and available on each district's website. Simple-majority approval is needed for each local levy.
It's important to know that six of the county's eight ballot measures are replacement levies and will require little to no increase in tax bills. Vancouver Superintendent Steven Webb told The Columbian editorial board that, if the M&O levy is not approved, virtually every area of the district will suffer. Also at risk are $8 million in matching funds from the state.
Vancouver's technology levy is new and, if approved, will cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $5.80 per month. This technology levy was delayed for four years because of the economic crisis, but administrators and support groups now want to proceed toward the admirable goal of providing every student with a digital learning device. As society rushes into a new era of information brought on by a technological explosion, to not equip our students with what now is considered basic tools would be in no one's interest.
A technology levy in the Camas district is a replacement levy. La Center has both an M&O levy and a new capital fund levy on the ballot. Ridgefield and Battle Ground each offer replacement M&O levies.
To preserve Clark County's high education standards and boost technology-in-education principles, vote "Yes" on the Feb. 12 school ballots.
Feb. 12 local school levy details
(All rates are annual, per $1,000 of assessed value.)
Vancouver Prop. 1 — Replacement of expiring maintenance and operations levy with estimated rates around $3.85 through 2016, yielding around $45 million per year.
Vancouver Prop. 2 — New technology levy with estimated rates around 33 cents through 2019, yielding $4 million per year.
Battle Ground Prop. 1 — Replacement of expiring M&O levy with estimated rates around $4.50 through 2017, yielding around $25 million per year.
Camas Prop. 1 — Replacement of expiring M&O levy with estimated rates around $3.50 through 2017, yielding around $12 million per year.
Camas Prop. 2 — Replacement of expiring technology levy with estimated rates around 38 cents through 2017, yielding around $1.3 million per year.
Ridgefield Prop. 1 — Replacement of expiring M&O levy with estimated rates around $2.40 through 2016, yielding around $4.3 million per year.
La Center Prop. 1 — Replacement of expiring M&O levy with estimated rates around $3.70 through 2016, yielding around $2.5 million per year.
La Center Prop. 2 — Capital fund levy for sports facilities with estimated rates around 28 cents through 2019, yielding around $200,000 per year.