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Hockinson levies fail; La Center’s leads in early count

By , Columbian Staff Writer
Published:
2 Photos
La Center School District’s 2018 bond will pay for a new middle school and to convert the K-8 building into an elementary school. Tuesday night, the district’s replacement levy was narrowly ahead, which will help the district maintain current programs after a change in the state funding model for education limited how much districts can collect from local levies.
La Center School District’s 2018 bond will pay for a new middle school and to convert the K-8 building into an elementary school. Tuesday night, the district’s replacement levy was narrowly ahead, which will help the district maintain current programs after a change in the state funding model for education limited how much districts can collect from local levies. Amanda Cowan/The Columbian Photo Gallery

Hockinson School District residents voted down two school levies, while voters in La Center came out narrowly in support of a school levy.

La Center School District’s replacement three-year educational programs and operations levy is ahead with 51.45 percent of the vote as of Tuesday night, winning 1,063 out of the 2,066 ballots cast.

Hockinson’s replacement three-year levy is failing with 46.37 percent in favor — 1,066 out of 2,299 votes cast — while the district’s three-year capital levy for technology and school improvements is failing with 45.06 percent in favor, with 1,016 out of 2,255 votes cast. A simple majority is required to pass the levies.

La Center levy

As part of the McCleary decision, which pumped $7.3 billion of state money into education followed by another $1 billion for teacher salaries in 2018, there is a cap on how much districts can ask for in local levy dollars.

Local levies can only go up to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value, which is what La Center was asking. Before the McCleary decision, La Center expected to have a levy rate of $2.86 per $1,000 of assessed value for 2019. The rate in 2018 was $2.58 per $1,000 of assessed value.

With the levy cap, the district anticipates collecting $1,917,514 in levy dollars for the 2019-2020 school year.

Levy dollars are used for extracurricular activities, technology, food service, transportation, maintenance, career and technical education and music.

La Center has 1,722 students at last count. That number is expected to jump to 2,200 in the next three-plus years, and around 3,000 in a little more than eight years, according to Superintendent Dave Holmes. In 2018, voters passed a $48 million bond so the district can build a new 81,375-square-foot middle school, which would open in time for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. A little more than $1 million of the bond money will go toward renovating the K-8 building into an elementary school, should the vote hold once results are certified.

Hockinson levies

In 2018, Hockinson’s levy rate was $3.43 per $1,000 of assessed value. The district was seeking $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value for all three years of the replacement levy, which would’ve gone toward keeping class sizes down, helping to fund special education programs, extracurricular activities and athletics.

The technology levy would have started in 2020, with the district asking for an estimated 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, followed by 40 cents per $1,000 in 2021 and 36 cents per $1,000 in 2022. That money was expected to be used for technology refreshes, safety and security upgrades, heating and cooling improvements and capital improvements.

The district didn’t return a call for comment Tuesday night. Prior to the election, Superintendent Sandra Yager said the replacement levy would have helped the district maintain its current programs, and the technology levy would’ve helped make up some of the difference from the newly capped levy amount.

In January, Yager said if the levies didn’t pass, the district could look at making some cuts.

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