Monday, October 18, 2021
Oct. 18, 2021

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Battle Ground schools plan levy meetings

Community nights to offer information on upcoming vote

By , Columbian Editor
Published:

Battle Ground Public Schools is planning two in-person community information nights in advance of its Nov. 2 school levy try.

Voters in the district, which encompasses a large swath of Clark County from the Vancouver suburbs to Amboy and Yacolt, rejected a levy in February, with 52.42 percent of 20,455 ballots marked “no.” Faced with the specter of cutting up to $30 million in spending over the next two years, the school board authorized a smaller levy try for November.

According to district officials, the levy now in front of voters has a projected tax rate of $1.99 per $1,000 of assessed value for all four years and would collect less in 2022 and 2023 than the expiring four-year levy did in 2021.

The expiring levy accounted for around 14 percent of the district’s budget in 2020-21, or nearly $30 million. Levy funding provides for programs and staffing beyond what the state’s basic education model funds, according to a news release. For instance, the state pays for fewer than two nurses in a district with 18 schools.

Levy funding also provides technology for students, music and arts programs, athletics and after-school activities, advanced placement courses, textbooks and materials, transportation and crossing guards, elective classes, teaching assistants and building maintenance and operations. About 260 employees are paid all or in part using levy money.

The in-person community information nights are set for:

  • 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28, at Prairie High School, 11311 N.E. 119th St.
  • 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, at Yacolt Primary School, 406 W. Yacolt Road.

A remote forum will be held via Zoom at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6.

District officials say Battle Ground Public Schools already offers the lowest total school tax rate of any district in Clark County. That rate would fall further in 2022 if the replacement levy passes, going from $2.32 per $1,000 of assessed value this year, to $1.99 per $1,000 in 2022. The owner of a home worth $450,000 would pay an estimated $123 less in local school taxes next year under the replacement levy.

In 2021, the overall local tax rate for Battle Ground was $2.88, including a building bond set to expire at the end of 2023. That rate is more than a dollar less than Evergreen Public Schools, and nearly two dollars below Camas School District.

Under state law, school levies need a simple majority to pass. Unlike other local school districts, obtaining that approval historically has been difficult for Battle Ground. The district has suffered 11 levy failures since 1992.

For more information on the replacement levy, visit https://battlegroundps.org/levy.

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