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School districts seek levies, bonds

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Posted: Saturday, January 28, 2012 9:05 am

MOSES LAKE - Seven school districts across Grant County are asking voters to approve levies in a Feb. 14 special election.

The school districts running levies in Grant County are Coulee-Hartline School District, Moses Lake School District, Royal School District, Soap Lake School District, Wahluke School District, Warden School District and Wilson Creek School District.

Ballots were mailed to voters yesterday and must be postmarked by Feb. 14 when returned.

Ballots may also be dropped in special boxes located at:

* The Lot A parking lot at the Grant County Courthouse in Ephrata

* The Grant County PUD building located on Grand Coulee Avenue in Grand Coulee

* Moses Lake City Hall located at 321 Balsam Street in Moses Lake

* The Fire District 10 station located at 588 Camelia Street in Royal City

* Quincy City Hall located at 104 B Street SW in Quincy

Coulee-Hartline School District

The Coulee-Hartline School District seeks a replacement maintenance and operations (M&O) levy to collect $493,131 in 2013 and $493,131 in 2014. The approximate levy rate is $2.55 per $1,000 of assessed value for both years, which is the same as the current rate.

Because the assessed value of property increased, the levy will generate more money with the same levy rate, said Superintendent Jim Evans.

The levy helps pay for things such as music and vocational programs, textbooks, teaching supplies, all-day kindergarten, school lunches, special education, athletics, clubs, maintenance, counselors, nurses and driver's education, he said.

If the levy were to fail, it would have a substantial impact on the district, he said.

If people have questions about the levy, they can call Evans at 509-632-5231, ext. 2.

Moses Lake School District

The Moses Lake School District seeks a replacement M&O levy to raise $15.2 million in 2013; $15.9 million in 2014; and $16.7 million in 2015. The collection rate would be $3.45 in 2013, $3.51 in 2014, and $3.59 in 2015. It is an increase from the $3.11 currently collected.

The levy funds services like music programs, counselors, reading specialists, literacy coaches, sports programs, extra curricular activities, librarians and nurses and would pay for all-day kindergarten throughout the district.

The district also seeks to pass a replacement bond to raise $115 million to build a new high school and two new elementary schools.

The bond is estimated to cost $2.25 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That includes the cost of the bond the district passed in 2007. The bond the district passed in 1993 will be paid off in 2012. It is an increase of 92 cents per $1,000 valuation.

The new high school would alleviate overcrowding at Moses Lake High School, while sixth grade students would move to the elementary schools to ease overcrowding at Chief Moses and Frontier middle schools.

It's up to the community to decide what programs, services and needs they feel are appropriate for students in Moses Lake, said Superintendent Michelle Price.

"As people are getting their ballots and considering the pros and cons of their vote, we are more than willing to meet with them and share information with them," she said. "We're your community schools and we want to make sure our schools reflect our community values and desires for the children here in this community."

People can call Price or Business and Operations Executive Director Mark Johnson at the Moses Lake School District Office, 509-766-2650.

"These are two very important measures for our community and for our children," said Price.

Royal School District

The Royal School District proposes a replacement M&O levy to collect $1.1 million in 2013 and $1.1 million in 2014, with an approximate levy rate of $2.30 per $1,000 of assessed value both years.

The estimated collection rate is the same as the district's current levy, said Business Manager David Andra.

Funds from the levy help the district reduce class sizes and helps pay for certificated salaries, athletics, transportation, and district-wide maintenance, he said.

"It would be pretty severe," if the levy failed, he said, as the district would have to cut staff, activities and programs.

Soap Lake School District

The Soap Lake School District seeks a replacement M&O levy that would collect $714,303 in 2013; $742,875 in 2014; $772,590 in 2015; and $803,494 in 2016. The approximate collection rate for all four years is $3.85 per $1,000 assessed valuation, approximately the same as the current rate.

The levy would help the district satisfy state mandates, keep class sizes small, and assist with things like student transportation and extracurricular activities.

The district would lose more than $1 million annually if the levy fails, including levy equalization from the state, according to Superintendent Dan McDonald.

The school district is trying to keep the price as affordable as possible while maintaining its level of service, he said.

Wahluke School District

The Wahluke School District proposes a replacement M&O levy to collect $1.3 million in 2013 and $1.4 million in 2014.

The approximate levy rate is $2.91 per $1,000 of assessed value both years, the same as the current rate.

The levy would help pay for such things as athletics, art, music, staff, librarians, counselors, technology and reducing class sizes, said Superintendent Aaron Chavez.

If the levy fails, "it would be catastrophic," said Chavez. "We get about $2.5 million in match from the state once it passes, so you can imagine, trying fill a hole like that, it would just be catastrophic ... all music, all art, athletics, all those things would go away ... I have faith that our community supports our schools,  supports our students and supports the direction we're going ... I have faith in our community that we'll come together and make it happen for our students."

Warden School District

The Warden School District proposes a replacement M&O levy to collect $1 million in 2013 and $1.1 million in 2014.

The approximate levy rate is $3.53 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2013 and $3.67 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2014.

The M&O levy will help the district "weather some of the cost cutting from the state that we've undergone for the last three years," said Superintendent Sandra Sheldon.

It will pay for things such as general maintenance, extracurricular activities and utilities, she said.

The Warden School District also proposes a replacement capitol levy to raise $500,000 in 2013 and $500,000 in 2014.

The capitol levy rate would be approximately $1.67 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2013 and $1.66 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2014.

Money raised from the capitol projects levy would go toward renovating and expanding the district's current vocational and agricultural building.

The district has money to renovate the building from its last capitol projects levy. The new levy would allow the district to add additional classroom space, a computer lab, a wood shop, and allow the district to replace the facility's greenhouse, said Sheldon.

The collection rate for the current M&O and capitol projects levies are about $6.56 per $1,000. The collection rate for the new levies would be $5.20 in 2013 and $5.33 in 2014.

"So we're actually decreasing the total cost of our levies and even in doing that we're going to be able to come out with a basically like-new, state-of-the art vocational/agricultural building," said Sheldon.

Wilson Creek School District

The Wilson Creek School District proposes a replacement M&O levy to collect $237,000 in 2013 and $237,000 in 2014. The approximate levy rate is $4.13 for both years.

The levy would pay for things such as maintenance, reducing class sizes, athletics, preschool and all-day kindergarten, and helps fund student organizations like Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and Future Farmers of America (FFA), said Superintendent Brad Smedley.

Smedley estimated the current levy rate at $4.08.

The impact to the district would be "very significant" if the levy fails, he said. Because the district receives levy equalization funds from the state, they would lose 10 percent of their budget without the levy, he said.

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