Levy would fill budget gap for Snohomish schools

SNOHOMISH — The Snohomish School District needs help from voters to bridge the gap between state funding and the actual money it spends educating children.

With that in mind, school district leaders are asking voters to support a four-year levy for operations and programs on the Feb. 9 ballot.

If approved, the levy would replace an expiring levy that pays for books, buses and additional teachers. Without it, deep cuts would be necessary district-wide.

Federal and state dollars cover about 76 percent of the district’s budget. About another 5 percent in funding comes from miscellaneous sources, such as school lunches.

That leaves the district with a multi-million dollar hole.

“Literally, today the levy provides 18 percent of all our operating cost,” said J. Marie Riche, spokeswoman for the Snohomish School District.

The new levy would take effect on Jan. 1, 2011, generating $18.69 million in its first year. For each of the four years, the tax rate would be $2.59 per $1,000 of the assessed value of a home.

That means a resident who owns a $300,000 home would pay about $777 per year, officials said.

That’s $30 more than the expiring levy, which cost the same household about $747 per year.

The uptick won’t fund new programs, officials said. Instead, it will maintain the status quo. More money is necessary because enrollment has increased.

“Everything we do costs just a little more,” said Mike Sullivan, executive director of business and operations.

The district added 192 students this year. It now educates about 9,800 students at 16 campuses.

The levy needs a simple majority to pass.

Andy Rathbun: 425-339-3455, arathbun@heraldnet.com.

What’s ahead

Here is the planned coverage in The Herald for school bond and levy issues that are on the Feb. 9 ballot. These stories can also be found on www.heraldnet.com after publication.

Monday – Lake Stevens School District

Today – Snohomish School District

Wednesday – Marysville School District

Thursday – Everett School District

Friday – Mukilteo School District

Feb. 1 – Edmonds School District

Feb. 2 – Sultan School District

Feb. 3 – Northshore (Bothell) School District

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