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School bond, levies on Feb. 13 ballot

 

February 7, 2018 | View PDF

Courtesy of the Marysville School District

Tax rates will be going up in 2018 regardless if Marysville School District's levies pass, but will fall to below 2017 rates in 2019 even if both levies pass.

The Feb. 13 Special Election ballot has several measures on it from the Arlington School District and Marysville School District.

Ballots have been mailed out by Snohomish County and are due by Feb. 13.

Local ballot drop boxes are located near the Arlington Library at 135 N Washington Ave. and behind Marysville City Hall at 1049 State Ave.

As of Feb. 5, 14 percent of Arlington School District voters had returned their ballot and 9.44 percent of Marysville School District voters had returned theirs.

Arlington School District Bond

The $107.5 million Arlington School District bond is meant to provide a number of building improvements for local schools, the biggest of which is a replacement of Post Middle School.

Bonds, which build schools, require 60 percent approval to pass in Washington state.

District officials are placing this bond on the ballot as the previous bond debt is expiring, so it would not increase the local school tax rate if passed.

The 2018 local school tax rate is $4.67 per $1,000 assessed property value. That is estimated to drop to $3.74 per $1,000 assessed property value in 2019 and 2020 and $3.12 per $1,000 assessed property value after that.

"The biggest question I have been getting is people saying 'how can you do this without raising taxes?'" said Brian Lewis, executive director of operations at the district.

"That is because the state is increasing their tax collection, while reducing our ability to collect taxes," he said, and the increase of the state taxes will be less than the decrease in local taxes for schools, resulting in a net lowering of the taxes collected for schools.

"Combine that with the previous bond expiring and those are the two main reasons we would be able to offer lower tax rates even if the bond passes," he said.

State property taxes meant to fund schools are increasing in 2018, however even accounting for that increase, passing the bond is not projected to increase the local tax rate.

The bond would also add an eight-classroom expansion for Arlington High School, as well as an art and technology workshop area.

That expansion is largely because of estimated student population increases, which show more than 360 additional students at the high school by 2022, said Lewis.

"The high school classroom additions will be there in time to provide space for the incoming growth," he said.

"And that growth estimate is just with our current student body, not even counting for potential development in Arlington," he said.

All schools in the district would receive various security improvements, including securing entryways and cameras for all schools.

Various other improvements include fire sprinklers for Eagle Creek Elementary, improved heating systems for many schools, new flooring at Eagle Creek Elementary and Kent Prairie Elementary and some drainage issue fixes at some athletic fields.

Lewis encourages people to contact the district if there is something they don't understand about the bond proposal.

"People can always call us at the district if they have questions or if they see something on social media that they aren't sure is true or not," he said.

More information about the Arlington School District's bond can be found on their website at https://www.asd.wednet.edu.

Marysville School District Levies

The Marysville School District is putting two levies before the voters, both of which are continuations of previous levies.

One would fund educational programs and operations and the other would fund technology and capital improvements.

The educational programs levy helps fund classroom teachers, nurses, counselors, librarians, programs for students with special needs, transportation, arts, music, athletics and other extra-curricular programs.

While state funds are increasing to fully fund basic education, Mike Sullivan, executive director of finances and operations at the district, said that those funds would not be enough to maintain what the district is current providing to students.

Sullivan cites counselors as an example, which are only funded for half a day at elementary schools by the state.

"Student mental health needs occur all day long," he said, and so the Marysville School District uses levy dollars to fund counselors for the full day.

The educational program and operations levy would maintain the existing services provided by the district.

"We need to continue offering the level of services we are right now," said Sullivan.

"The state's money that they are giving us is targeted toward certain areas and we have to spend it in those areas," said Sullivan.

That money for basic education does not include things like athletics or after-school programs.

It also doesn't fund those students who need more services, like those who need special education, those who are highly capable or the 46 percent of students on free and reduced lunch.

"We want to meet those needs, for those who need more," said Emily Wicks, coordinator of communications and community relations at the district. "That's why local levies are put forward, to meet your local community's needs."

Because of more state funds coming to the district, the total tax rate in the district will go up in 2018, but will decline in 2019.

In 2017 the rate was $7.33 per $1,000 assessed value and in 2018 it will be $7.75 per $1,000 assessed value.

"There's no way we can prevent the tax rate going up in 2018. That's done and that's set," said Sullivan.

However, the local tax rate for schools will drop in 2019, if both the levies pass, to $7.20 per $1,000 assessed value, which would be less than in 2017.

"We're decreasing the tax rate more than the state is increasing it," said Sullivan.

"This isn't going to cost you more than it was before, it's just going to take a year to get there," he said.

A technology and capital projects levy is also on the ballot.

This is a continuation of the previous technology levy that started the initiative in Marysville schools to give every secondary school student a Chromebook.

In addition to advancing that initiative, it will also provide a number of building maintenance items including roof replacements, fire system upgrades and heating system replacements.

"It's enough money to go through and take care of the major components of the building that we should have been able to replace years ago," said Sullivan.

The technology levy tax rate would be an additional $0.28 per $1,000 of assessed value over the previous levy, for a projected total of $0.67 per $1,000 assess value in the first year.

For more information about the levies, go to http://www.msd25.org.

 

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