Darrington School District levies on Feb. 19 ballot

DARRINGTON Along with Arlington and Lakewood, the Darrington School District has levies on the ballot in the Feb. 19 election.
The Darrington School District has two propositions that its asking local voters to approve.
DSD Superintendent Larry Johnson explained that Proposition 1 is a four-year replacement maintenance and operations levy, so called because it would replace the four-year maintenance and operations levy that was passed in 2004. While the old maintenance and operations levy is set to expire in 2008, the new maintenance and operations levy, if passed, will carry the school district from 2009 through 2012.
State and federal funds provide only part of what we need to maintain a quality basic education for our students, Johnson said. Local levy dollars make up the approximately 16 percent to 20 percent shortfall.
Under the existing maintenance and operations levy, area homeowners are paying a rate of $2.893 per $1,000 of assessed valuation on their property in 2008. Thus, for property valued at $200,000, area homeowners will pay $578.60 in 2008. DSD Business Manager Myra Lewis noted that the proposed maintenance and operations levy would result in slight yearly increases in this rate.
In 2009, itd be $2.908 per $1,000, but that would only add up to $581.60 for $200,000 in property, versus the $578.60 that people with $200,000 in property are already paying now, Lewis said. In 2010, itd come to $2.924 per $1,000, and in 2011, thatd go up to $2.939 per $1,000. By 2012, theyd be paying $2.956 per $1,000, or $591.20 for $200,000 in property.
Johnson elaborated that maintenance and operations levies fund the general operating expenses of the district, helping to pay for curricula, classroom supplies, staff training, field trips, athletics, utilities, technology, basic maintenance and repairs, and other day-to-day operations and costs not fully covered by state and federal funds.
Moving on to Proposition 2, Johnson explained that its a two-year transportation levy, to replace two school buses that have reached the end of their state-funded depreciation reimbursement cycles, and are approaching a level of needed repairs that warrants replacement.
Because the state pays school districts for depreciation of school buses over time at a rate sufficient to fund the purchase of replacement buses, the Darrington School District has had to use its accumulated depreciation funds to purchase additional buses, to address the scheduling needs of increased enrollment and enhanced programs.
This new levy will buy two buses and enable us to accumulate depreciation funds so that, in the future, well come closer to being able to replace buses as needed, with state funds rather than local ones, Johnson said. Safe, efficient buses are needed not only to transport our students to and from school, but also to facilitate off-campus extended learning and athletic opportunities for our children.
Lewis pointed out that this transportation levy would result in a rate of $0.442 per $1,000, or 88.40 for $200,000 in property, in 2009, while in 2010, the rate would drop to $0.417 per $1,000, or $83.40 for $200,000 in property.
We currently have seven buses on the road, Lewis said. Some of them date back to 1986 and 1987, so its an old fleet with a lot of mileage.
Important note for all voters: Cindy Gobel, voter registration lead with the Snohomish County Auditors Office, added that voters can vote on local initiatives, such as these levies, in the Feb. 19 mail-in election, even if they choose not to participate in the primary.
You can still vote on the school levy but choose not to vote for the presidential candidates, Gobel said.

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