Monroe High School (Monroe School District)

‘Set for the next four years’: Monroe schools levy officially passes

The levy funds 14% of the district’s budget including athletics, extracurricular activities and some transportation services.

MONROE — The successful passage of a vital school tax measure brought a sigh of relief for Monroe School District advocates.

The district’s four-year programs and operations levy passed with about 52% approval. Just shy of 9,000 of the 17,226 ballots cast for the measure were “yes” votes. The Snohomish County Auditor’s Office certified the results this week.

The district ran the same measure in February, but it failed with just 46% approval.

The levy is projected to bring in $68.9 million over four years. It sets an annual cap for how much the district can collect each year, including a maximum of nearly $15.9 million in 2023.

“It’s good news for our kids and for the district as a whole, because it’s very critical funding,” said Melanie Lockhart, chair of the pro-levy group, Citizens for Monroe Schools. “Without it, I think we would have been in a huge pickle for longer than people may have even realized.”

The levy accounts for about 14% of the district’s annual budget. The district uses the tax revenue to pay for several key programs and positions, including athletics, extracurricular activities, transportation services and school staff salaries not covered by state funding.

“We rely on this local funding for our schools and we are grateful to the Monroe voters for their support of our students and schools,” interim Superintendent Marci Larsen wrote in an email to The Daily Herald. “The renewal of this levy will allow us to continue providing the well-rounded education our community expects for our students, which goes beyond what the state provides funding for.”

Based on the most recent property value assessment, the district estimates it will cost homeowners about $1.71 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2023.

Lockhart said changes in the district — including the departure of former Superintendent Justin Blasko and the hiring of Larsen as interim superintendent — that happened since February likely helped the levy pass this November.

Lockhart is happy to see that the district is “set for the next four years” in terms of its local funding. Now school officials can turn their full attention to other improvements, she said. For example, the school board is in the midst of the search process for a permanent superintendent.

“They are building back that trust that’s been lost,” Lockhart said. “There’s still a lot of work they need to do, and I’m optimistic that they know that and they will continue to move in a direction that builds on that.”

Mallory Gruben is a Report for America corps member who writes about education for The Daily Herald.

Mallory Gruben: 425-339-3035; mallory.gruben@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @MalloryGruben.

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