North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

MSD puts levies on Feb. 13 ballot

 

January 3, 2018 | View PDF



The Marysville School District is asking voters in February approve a couple of replacement levies that would provide millions of dollars of funding which is used to help pay for teachers and support staff, extra-curricular activities, athletics, and technology upgrades.

Marysville school officials are asking voters on Feb. 13 to approve Proposition 1, a $26.5 million Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy, along with Proposition 2, a $6 million Technology and Capital Projects Levy. Both proposals have to pass with a simple 50 percent majority. If passed, the levies would be collected in 2019 through 2022.

However, unless state law is tweaked, Proposition 1, the Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy, comes with a caveat that Marysville School District may have to roll back the levy and reduce the amount collected by millions of dollars.

“It’s really a chance for the local community to make sure the kids have a whole childhood education,” said Marysville School District Superintendent Becky Berg.

If approved, the Educational Programs and Operations Levy will cost homeowners $2.97 per $1,000 assessed property value starting in 2019. Berg said the amount requested is $2 million less than the school district is scheduled to collect in 2018. The Technology and Capital Projects Levy will cost a homeowner 67 cents per $1,000 assessed property value.

State law is changing concerning the amount a school district can collect for an operations levy. The school district currently can collect a levy that is equal to 28 percent of state funding. That rule goes away in 2019.

In its place is legislation, which was approved in summer 2017, that stated school districts can collect either $1.50 per $1,000 assessed property value or $2,500 per student, whichever one is lower. At the $1.50 maximum, the school district would be able to collect around $1,300 per student.

“That’s an inequity that needs to be fixed,” said Mike Sullivan, executive director of finance and operations for the Marysville School District.

School officials are talking with local legislators about school levies and they hope the legislature will adjust the rules sometime in 2018.

If the rules remain the same, the school district will roll back the levy to the $1.50 per $1,000 assessed property value and the school district would collect $13.996 million in 2019.

“We’d have to get into some very difficult decision-making processes,” Berg said of the possibility of a levy rollback.

The Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy, which voters last approved in 2014, pays for additional teachers and instructional aides along with other support staff such as nurses, counselors and librarians. Levy dollars also help fund students with special needs, student transportation, and the health, safety and security of students.

Berg said state funding doesn’t fund any extras and in some cases, doesn’t fund basic needs. When there’s a disagreement with the state on staffing levels, the school district uses levy dollars to round things out.

The operations levy isn’t the only measure officials are asking Marysville School District voters to consider. The Marysville School District is asking voters to renew a Technology and Capital Projects Levy, which would bring in $6 million a year for four years and it has to pass by a 50 percent simple majority.

“It’s been a huge blessing for the school district,” Berg said. “It’s been a game changer.”

The technology levy would refresh the district’s Chromebooks that are used in the classrooms. The ratio of Chromebooks to students is 1 to 1 in grades six through 12, and nearly at the same ratio in the elementary schools. The levy will also pay to continue Wi-Fi access, technology infrastructure maintenance and student and staff learning.

The Technology and Capital Projects Levy will also fund a variety of facilities projects including roof and gutter replacements, fire systems, boiler replacement, floor replacements and other improvements.

The Marysville School District recently polled its residents about their opinions of the district. One thing officials found was that 96 percent of the people surveyed agreed that technology access for the school district is important.

The community has been supportive of both levies in recent elections. In 2014, both propositions were approved with more than 55 percent of the voters who participated voting yes.

“We’re just really thankful for the support from the community,” Berg said.

 

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