Battle Ground and Camas school districts will turn to voters Feb. 9 to help continue funding various school programs and amenities.
Both districts are holding special elections for replacement levies that expire at the end of 2021. Levy dollars make up the difference between what state funding provides and what various local educational services need. While bond measures require a supermajority of 60 percent to pass, levies need a simple majority of more than 50 percent.
Battle Ground Public Schools is asking voters to renew a $116.15 million Educational Programs and Operations Levy that expires at the end of 2021. The four-year levy would cost voters a projected $1.95 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2022, followed by a rate of $2.20 through 2025.
In its first year, the tax rate would be 22 percent lower than the current levy rate.
In November, the Battle Ground School Board voted to dip into the district’s reserve fund to lower the projected tax rate in 2022 to provide relief to taxpayers in a pandemic-riddled era.
The levy makes up about 14 percent of the district’s general fund budget of $199 million, said Meagan Hayden, the district’s chief financial officer. The replacement levy would maintain funding for staffing, special education, health professionals, technology, and other programs district officials say are critical to the success of approximately 12,000 students.
“There’s a big funding gap there from what we get from the state and federal, and then we make up the difference with levy funds,” Hayden said.
District spokeswoman Rita Sanders stressed the importance of how technology continues to serve students in the COVID era of distance education. All students are equipped with district-issued personal devices, and about 10 percent use provided Wi-Fi hot spots to stay connected to their classrooms while learning remotely.
A large portion of levy dollars will continue to fund staffing levels that the state’s basic education model doesn’t cover, Sanders said.
“It’s people who are providing services to our students,” Sanders said. “People are important to building relationships and making the connections that help them.”
The Camas School District is asking residents to replace two levies that expire at the end of 2021: an Educational Programs and Operations Levy and a Technology, Health and Safety Capital Levy.
If approved, the renewed Educational Programs and Operations Levy would provide $53 million spread over three years to maintain funding for staffing, extracurricular activities, special education, transportation and other programs the district deems necessary to provide services to students in Clark County’s fourth-largest district.
The levy is the same as this year, costing $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2022, 2023, and 2024 and collecting $17.18 million, $17.69 million and $18.22 million during that time frame. It makes up 20 percent of the district’s total operating revenue, according to the district.
The Technology, Health and Safety Capital Levy replaces the district’s existing technology levy, and funds 98 percent of the technology used districtwide, according to the district. The district is asking for $11.5 million over three years to repair, replace or modernize student and staff computers, replace essential systems in aging facilities, and upgrade fire protections.
It has a proposed tax rate of 54 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value through 2024, up from 28 cents this year, but decreases in bond collections will offset the increase, according to the district.