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Ballots due on Arlington schools' levy by Feb. 14

ARLINGTON — On Feb. 14, Arlington voters will be asked to vote on the replacement of an expiring school programs and operation levy for the Arlington Public Schools.

As voters weigh this choice, Arlington School District officials want to make sure they understand that this levy is not a new tax, but a renewal of a current tax expiring at the end of 2012.

Andrea Conley, public information officer for the Arlington Public Schools, noted that approximately 68 percent of the Arlington School District’s funding is provided through state allocation, while 27 percent comes from local taxes and fees, and the remaining 5 percent is from federal allotments.

These levy funds support school district instructional programs and operations, including technology, teaching materials, curriculum, staffing, professional development, academic support, transportation, special education, extracurricular activities such as athletics and clubs, and safety and emergency preparedness.

State law requires school districts to periodically ask voters to consider renewing their local levies, and school districts are allowed to collect only the amounts of money approved by their voters.

For the proposed four-year replacement levy on the Feb. 14 ballot, which would be collected from 2013-16, Arlington School District officials estimate that the 2012 tax rate of $3.57 per $1,000 of assessed value, for an estimated annual tax of $1,071 on a $300,000 home, would remain in place through 2013 and the end of 2014. In 2015, they estimate that tax rate would go down to $3.52 per $1,000 of assessed value, for an estimated annual tax of $1,056 on a $300,000 home, and in 2016, they estimate that tax rate would go down to $3.47 per $1,000 of assessed value, for an estimated annual tax of $1,041 on a $300,000 home.

When assessed property values change, the tax rates are adjusted to ensure that school districts collect only the levy dollar amounts approved by their voters. Because of changing property values and other factors that affect the tax rate, the Arlington School District expects the school tax rate to remain the same in the next two years and decrease in the last two years of the four-year proposal.

Arlington's 2011 levy tax rate of $3.03 per $1,000 of assessed value is lower than those of Marysville at $3.45, Darrington at $3.38, Lake Stevens at $3.21, Granite Falls at $3.09 and Monroe at $3.06 for the same year. Of Arlington's neighboring districts, only Lakewood and Stanwood were lower, at $2.87 and $1.94, respectively.

Conley noted that the Arlington Public Schools were cited as one of the most efficient school districts in the state by the State Auditor's Office in November of last year, in recognition of their practices to reduce non-instructional costs. The Arlington School District was also recognized as one of the best school districts in the state, when judged by a ratio of high-achieving to low-spending, by the Center for American Progress in their January 2011 report, "Return on Educational Investment — A District-by-District Evaluation of U.S. Educational Productivity."

Ballots for this election were mailed on Jan. 27 and are due by Feb. 14. For more information, you can log onto www.asd.wednet.edu or contact Conley by phone at 360-618-6217 or via email at aconley@asd.wednet.edu.

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