Battle Ground Public Schools hopes the second time will be the charm for its replacement levy after the school board unanimously voted at Thursday’s special board meeting to place a levy back in voters’ hands in November.
The district’s current educational programs and operations levy expires at the end of 2021. If approved by voters in the Nov. 2 special election, held in conjunction with the state’s general election, the district will collect $1.99 per $1,000 of assessed property value annually through 2025. It’ll raise $115.7 million over the next four years to maintain a host of educational programs, extracurricular activities and staffing for day-to-day operations, according to the district.
The projected tax rate and total request from the district is lower than what Battle Ground voters rejected in February, when the district asked taxpayers for $1.95 per $1,000, rising to $2.20 the remaining three years of the four-year levy. The district also would collect nearly $500,000 less over four years than what the $116.1 million it requested in February.
If the levy fails a second go-around, Battle Ground faces budget cuts of up to $30 million over the next two years in programs and staffing not supported by state funding. Levy funds help make up for the shortage of state support for public schools.
With 47.53 percent ‘yes’ votes, the district’s replacement levy failed to reach the simple majority — 50 percent, plus one — threshold for passing during the Feb. 9 special election. Out of 46 districts statewide that ran a February levy, Battle Ground was one of four that had its levy fail.
The district’s last replacement levy in 2017 passed on the first attempt, but Battle Ground has a history of failed bonds and levies.
Since 1992, the district has suffered 11 levy failures, including a double failure in 2006, and a triple failure in 1997-98.