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Schools send levy to voters
ARLINGTON Arlington School District Superintendent Linda Byrnes sought support from citizens at the Jan. 7 City Council meeting, regarding the Feb. 19 election for a proposed four-year replacement school programs and operations levy.
Byrnes explained that the proposed levy is not a new tax because, if approved, it would replace the existing levy which was passed four years ago and is scheduled to expire at the end of this year.
In 2004, voters approved a school programs and operations levy resulting in a rate of $3.21 for $1,000 of assessed valuation, Byrnes said. Thats since gone down to the existing rate of $2.32 per $1,000. This proposed replacement levy would offer an even lower rate of $2.20 per $1,000.
According to Byrnes, funds from school programs and operations levies bridge the gap between what the state provides and the community expects in education. Such levies make up between 18 percent to 20 percent of school district budgets, and cover 100 percent of their co-curricular activities, such as music, drama, activities and clubs, as well as 90 percent of their co-curricular sports, with districts collecting nominal participation fees.
This levy would also fund 60 percent of the school districts technology, 30 percent of its transportation services, 25 percent of the school and department budgets and building support, and portions of its curricula, instructional materials and teacher training.
Byrnes noted that approximately half of the school districts school programs and operations levy dollars go to teachers, para-educators, custodians, bus drivers, nurses, school secretaries and administrators.
While the current years levy tax rate of $2.32 and bond tax rate of $1.44 would add up to a combined amount of $3.76, if this proposed levy passes, the 2009 levy tax rate of $2.20 and bond tax rate of $1.09 would add up to a combined amount of $3.29 next year. The 2009 levy tax rate of $2.03 and bond tax rate of 82 cents would add up to a combined amount of $2.85 in four years.
As property values rise, tax rates fall, Byrnes said. Our combined tax rate also falls as we pay off out bond debt.
Out of eight surrounding school districts, Byrnes pointed out that the Arlington School Districts current tax rate of $3.76 per $1,000 of assessed valuation is third-lowest on the list, below Marysville at $3.91 and Darrington at $4.21, but above Lakewood at $3.72. The lowest rate of the eight listed was Stanwoods $2.79, while the highest was Lake Stevens $4.78.
Cindy Gobel, voter registration lead with the Snohomish County Auditors Office, added that voters can vote on local initiatives, such as this levy, in the Feb. 19 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.
Arlington School District Public Information Coordinator Misti Gilman encouraged those with questions to contact her by phone at 360-618-6200, or via e-mail at Misti_Gilman@asd.wednet.edu. Information is also available online at www.asd.wednet.edu.