Skamania School District’s Board of Directors voted to approve a renewal educational programs and operations levy to appear on the Feb. 14, 2023, special election ballot
The board voted 4-1 in favor of the resolution, with one board member wanting to approve a higher levy amount, at their special Nov. 30 board meeting. The current levy, previously called an enrichment levy, will expire on Dec. 31, 2023.
If approved by voters, the renewal levy for educational programs and operations (EP&O) would continue to provide funding for Skamania School for the next three years: 2024, 2025, and 2026. This is not a new tax, but a continuation of an existing tax that must be renewed every few years.
In Skamania, local levy dollars make up approximately 14 percent of the district’s operating budget. The EP&O levy dollars will continue to help pay for things like teacher and support staff salaries to maintain our low student-to-teacher ratio, school counseling services, music and P.E. classes, training for teachers and support staff, transportation, maintenance and operations, and administrative support.
If passed, the new tax rate to the voters will be less than the expiring levy’s tax rate. The tax rate in 2022 was $1.30 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The estimated new rates per $1,000 of assessed property value are expected to be $1.16 in 2024, $1.15 in 2025, and $1.15 in 2026, which continues to be significantly less than other districts in our area.
“Without the community’s support of levy funding, the Skamania School Board would be faced with a $250,000 shortfall that could lead to very difficult decisions such as possible program and staff reductions,” said Superintendent Milt Dennison.
The district is requesting authorization of approximately $250,000 for collection in 2024, $265,000 in 2025, and $280,000 in 2026 through the EP&O levy, or $795,000 total across the three years. The annual increases are projected to account for inflation and increasing staff costs.
The collection happens across a calendar year (January to December), with the funds providing services for the school’s fiscal year which runs from September to August. This means the funds available per school year are estimated to be $240,240 in 2023-2024, $255,791 in 2024-2025, $265,126 in 2025-2026, and $127,375 in 2026-2027 with the levy expiring partway through the school year in December 2027.
While state and federal funding provide a large portion of the funding for districts each year, they do not cover all of the expenses required to operate a school district. Local levies are necessary to make up ongoing gaps in financial support so that districts like Skamania can continue to provide a quality, safe and rewarding educational experience for all students in the district.
More information can be found on the Skamania School website: www.skamaniaschooldistrict.org.