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Snohomish Schools asking for levy on February ballot

SNOHOMISH — Voters have until Feb. 13 to decide whether they will fund
school technology, extracurricular programs and specialized staff for the next four years.
The district has two proposed levies on the ballot to replace ones expiring this year. The levies would span 2019 to 2022.
The four-year Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy would cost property owners $1.50 per $1,000 in property value and raise slightly less than $15.1 million in the first year.
The four-year Replacement Levy for Instructional Technology would cost property owners 50 cents per $1,000 in assessed value and raise $5.03 million in the first year.
The district relies on local levies for approximately 20 percent of its funding.
“The educational programs levy touches everything we do all day long in our schools,” school district Superintendent Kent Kultgen said.
That levy funds resource officers in high schools and will supply a full-time counselor in every elementary school next year Kultgen said.
Levy revenue also pays for extracurriculars including sports, drama, and band. And it covers special programs like the summer Science and Arts Academy and ACT testing for all high school juniors.
The technology levy pays for some equipment voters might expect, like computers and laptops, but also for the district to own and maintain over 800 utility poles to run a fiberoptic network, Kultgen said.
Classroom technology such as smartboards and educational software are other tools the technology levy funds.
Kultgen wants voters to understand that these are renewals of existing levies, not a request for new money.
Property owners will feel more of a sting this year, before the new levies would be in place – 2018 is the last year that a set of more expensive local levies are in force, combined with the first year of a new increased state-mandated levy rate.
The expiring Snohomish levies cost property owners $3.73 per $1,000 in property value, plus the district has two bonds that add an additional $3.20 per $1,000 in assessed property value making the district’s rate $6.90 per $1,000 in assessed property value.
The state added a new portion to its own levy and raised the rate by 82 cents to attempt to meet state education funding requirements under the McCleary lawsuit, to make a total of $2.85 per $1,000 beginning this year. Locally, the state’s additional money allowed the district to hire more staff and reduce class sizes for grades K-3, Kultgen said.
A spike in property values exacerbated tax bills: the average Snohomish home worth $296,100 in 2017 rose in value to an average of $330,700 in 2018, meaning last year’s $601.08 state levy portion jumped to $960.45 this year for that higher-value average home.
But if voters approve the two Snohomish replacement levies, the rates for those would drop from $3.73 for the expiring 2018 levies to a combined $2.00 for the replacement levies in 2019.
Snohomish property owners would see a net decrease in levies of 91 cents, from $5.76 in 2017 to $4.85 per $1,000 in 2019.
Kultgen encourages residents to get involved in education to see the benefit of the levies.
This is the time we “ask our community for support but also talk and share what’s happening in our schools, how we can serve our students and community better,” Kultgen said.
Information about the levies is available at the district’s website: https://www.sno.wednet.edu/ and about property taxes at the Snohomish County Assessor’s website: https://snohomishcountywa.gov/Assessor

 

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