Lake Stevens residents to vote on school levies

LAKE STEVENS — Residents in the Lake Stevens School District will soon receive their ballots for new replacement levies that will fund the school maintenance and operations as well as technology needs.

The current levies, which voters approved in 2010, expire this year. The replacement levies will provide funding for the schools through 2018.

The two levies together are expected to raise $58.4 million over a four year period, $52.4 million of which comprises the maintenance and operations levy.

Lake Stevens Schools Superintendent Amy Beth Cook said that the maintenance and operations levy makes up 20 percent of the district’s operating budget.

The levy is critical to continuing current programs because the state isn’t fully funding education, Cook said.

Voters will receive their ballots in the mail Jan. 22, and they must be either postmarked or dropped off in the secure ballot drop box by midnight Tuesday, Feb. 11. The ballot drop box is located at 1800 Main St., near the boat launch.

The maintenance and operations levy will yield a slightly higher amount in 2015 than the one it is replacing. The new levy will raise $13.1 million each year over the next four years, for a total of $52.4 million. In 2014, the expiring levy is expected to raise approximately $12.5 million.

But the amount actually levied against property valuations will remain roughly the same next year — $3.76 per $1,000 of assessed valuation — as it is this year. That was the intent of the school board’s decision, Cook said.

For a resident in a $300,000 home, that amounts to an estimated levy of $1,128.

Because the net dollar amount of the levy is fixed at $13.1 million each year, new construction in the district is expected to result in higher valuations and therefore a lower per-$1,000 rate, Cook said.

By 2018, the rate will fall to $3.44 per $1,000.

The technology levy will raise another $1.5 million per year for four years, at a rate ranging from 42 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation in 2015 — an additional $126 on that $300,000 home — to 39 cents per $1,000 in 2018.

The technology levy will fund technology devices used in the classrooms, infrastructure maintenance, professional learning and technology support, and purchasing new technology.

By contrast, 82 percent of the maintenance and operations levy will support classrooms directly, and the rest supporting ongoing facilities maintenance, student transportation, athletics and other student activities, the swimming pool and community education programs.

Many school districts will be placing levies on the February ballot this year. Among them, Darrington, Edmonds, Everett, Granite Falls, Mukilteo, Northshore, Snohomish and Sultan will run maintenance and operations levies, while Granite Falls, Marysville, Monroe, Northshore and Snohomish also are putting technology levies on the ballot. The Edmonds, Everett, Lakewood and Mukilteo School Districts will be placing general obligation bonds on the February ballot.

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