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Everett School District levies ask to maintain funding, replace schools

EVERETT — The Everett School District’s two levies ask to continue funding for education and to help it catch up on maintenance.
The district’s education levy, for $2.15 per $1,000 in assessed property value each year until 2027, asks to continue bridging a funding gap for programs and services not covered with state dollars.
Part of its six-year capital levy request, for $1.75 per $1,000 in assessed property value, contains numerous items that appeared in the district’s 2020 failed bond measure attempt.
Combined, the tax rate charged by Everett Schools would be $4.08 per $1,000 in assessed property value through 2027 if both levies pass and no new bonds are authorized by voters during this timeframe. For a $500,000 home, it would equal $2,040 for the district’s portion of property taxes. 
The capital levy asks to completely replace Madison and Jackson elementaries. The district’s three main high schools would also get major work, classroom technology would be upgraded, playgrounds redone and security enhanced.
Projects include to modernize Everett High’s cafeteria, upgrade Cascade High’s science classrooms and equip Jackson High with what’s needed to launch two planned career pathway programs in science and communications.
The $203 million capital levy contains $29 million in upgrades at five schools to meet the new state Clean Buildings Act, which is an unfunded energy-efficiency mandate with a deadline of 2028 to comply.
At Madison Elementary in central Everett, a new two-story school would be built for $63 million. At Jackson Elementary in north Everett, a new two-story school would be built for $48 million. Both buildings date to the 1940s and were last modernized in the early 1990s.
Jackson doesn’t meet Americans With Disabilities Act standards, while Madison doesn’t meet current seismic standards, district spokeswoman Kathy Reeves said.
The district says it’s legal to place construction projects into a levy, but used sparingly: A bond fronts the money and is structured to be totally paid off over decades; a levy doesn’t have the same structure for paying off what you buy within the time given.
The technology improvements would add new interactive smartboards in the classrooms of all nine middle and high schools; these are already  being deployed across its 19 elementary schools. Wi-Fi, fiber optics and cybersecurity would be enhanced through the capital levy, too.
The levy would also pay to replace playgrounds across eight elementary schools for $2.2 million and erect new digital readerboards at 19 schools for $2.2 million more.
The 2020 bond narrowly failed reaching a 60% supermajority need to pass. It asked for $319 million.
Levies require 50 percent approval or better to pass.
Ballots are due Feb. 8.




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