The Evergreen Public Schools Board of Directors approved two levy resolutions for the February 12, 2019 election ballot. Voters within the district’s boundaries of will be asked to vote on a replacement maintenance and operations (M&O) levy along with a technology levy.
Although the state of Washington has taken on more responsibility for paying for basic education, there are still funding gaps. The state now allows each school district to ask for $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value to cover programs either partially, or not funded at all, by the state, as well as other special designation levies. This year, Evergreen is asking for the $1.50 as a partial M&O replacement levy, as well as $.37 per $1,000 assessed value to fund school technology. Together, the two measures still ensure local taxes are less than the current expiring M&O levy of $3.21 per $1,000 which was voted on in 2016.
Under the new legislation, the proposed three-year levy must be designated and reported to the state to be spent in non-basic education categories. If passed, levy dollars will ensure the continuation of athletics and activities; support performing arts such as band, choir, orchestra and theater programs, productions and performances; safety programs such as security officers and sworn police officers/deputies School Resource Officers (SRO); and smaller class sizes.
Although nearly every other school district in the region has previously run a technology levy, Evergreen has not, instead relying on general fund dollars. However, with the decrease in available M&O levy funds, a technology levy is needed to maintain and enhance technology in the schools. Funds will be designated over a six-year period for digital curriculum, keeping resources (devices) current, enhanced security technology and to secure and maintain network infrastructure.
“Evergreen continues to efficiently and effectively spend the levy dollars authorized by our voters. We have one of the lowest administrative and central office costs in the state and among peer districts. We continue to ensure the money is spent on programs and supports that have direct student impact which has led to our higher graduation rates,” said Board President Todd Yuzuriha.
Even if the technology levy passes with a more than 50 percent vote, it will not be implemented unless the M&O levy is also approved by more than 50 percent. Last year, Evergreen voters passed a $695 million capital facilities bond to replace, rebuild and repair all schools in the district, plus build an additional elementary school. The new measure did not raise the bond portion of the property tax, but are not allowed to be used for daily maintenance and operations.