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Voters approve levies

ARLINGTON The Arlington and Darrington school districts have received good news from the voters, according to the most recent election results.
As of press time, the Snohomish County Auditors Office reported that Arlington School District Proposition 1 received 3,763 yes votes out of a total of 6,727 votes, or 55.94 percent, and Darrington School District Proposition 1 received 397 yes votes out of a total of 676 votes, or 58.73 percent. Darrington School District Proposition 2 received 406 yes votes out of a total of 679 votes, or 59.79 percent.
Because Engrossed House Joint Resolution 4204 was approved as an amendment to the Washington State Constitution last year, all of the above propositions have passed, since they only required simple majorities to do so in the Feb. 19 election.
Arlington School District Proposition 1
ASD Superintendent Linda Byrnes explained that Proposition 1 is a four-year replacement school programs and operations levy, and not a new tax, because it will 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 replacement levy offers an even lower rate of $2.20 per $1,000.
Such levies make up between 18 percent - 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 will 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 add up to a combined amount of $3.76, the 2009 levy tax rate of $2.20 and bond tax rate of $1.09 will add up to a combined amount of $3.29 next year. This combined levy tax rate will add up to $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.
We want to thank our community for their vote of confidence in our schools, ASD Public Information Coordinator Misti Gilman said. Local dollars bridge the gap between what the state provides and the quality of education our community expects.
Darrington School District Propositions 1 and 2
DSD Superintendent Larry Johnson explained that their Proposition 1 is a four-year replacement maintenance and operations levy, which replaces 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 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 16-20 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 will 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 will 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 will 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.

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