Monday, November 29, 2021
Nov. 29, 2021

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Evergreen Public Schools levy OK’d for February ballot

Voters to decide on $165.1 million replacement levy

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

The Evergreen Public Schools Board of Directors at Tuesday’s board meeting approved a replacement levy resolution to be put on the Feb. 8 special election ballot.

The Evergreen levy will replace the three-year Education Programs and Operations levy passed in 2019. Similar to the levy that voters in Battle Ground passed last week, it supports day-to-day programs including the continuation of athletics and performing arts, adequate staff for social-emotional services and nursing offices, and the allowance for smaller class sizes.

In total, it would raise an estimated $165.1 million over three years. Annually, the local replacement levy accounts for approximately 12.3 percent of Evergreen’s budget.

The district said the replacement levy will not raise the overall current local school district tax rate. Property owners are currently paying $1.72 per $1,000 in assessed value in the existing levy.

The proposed levy will cost taxpayers $1.92 per $1,000 assessed value the first year, followed by $2.12 in the second and third year.

The district said the increase in the levy will be offset by lowered costs associated with the district’s capital facilities bond. So combined with the bond and the district’s six-year technology levy, the district’s total tax rate would be $3.89 per $1,000 assessed value.

Recent levies

When approved in 2019, Evergreen’s technology levy was the first of its kind — it aimed to improve the district’s digital infrastructure, networking capacities and security technology. The tech levy is not up for renewal in February, as it will remain in place until 2025.

Voters also passed a $695 million capital facilities bond in 2018 for the renovation and maintenance of schools across the district, as well as the replacement of 11 schools and the addition of another. Those 2018 funds cannot be used for more day-to-day operations or for the student programs listed above, according to the district.

The district was also granted federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds like others across the state and nation to offset some of the unexpected costs that the pandemic presented, many of which were tech-related. Those funds also cannot be allocated to service maintenance and operation costs that this replacement levy aims to provide.

The two levies on the 2019 ballot won by slim margins, with 51.61 percent voting yes on the renewal levy (which the levy approved Tuesday will replace) and 51.67 percent voting yes on the technology levy. Additional information regarding costs and evaluation of what all will be provided by the levy will be posted in the coming days on the Evergreen Public Schools website.

“Even with the COVID protocol requirements for schools, we continue to ensure the existing local levy money is spent on programs and supports that have direct student impact,” said Board President Victoria Bradford. “This focus continues to lead to greater student success and some of the highest graduation rates in the region.”

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