The Tahoma School District is spending time after the holidays preparing for the February election, where two school levies are on the ballot.
One of the first things the district has to do is recruit writers for a pro and a con statement for February’s voters pamphlet. Statements must be submitted to King County Elections by 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17.
Tahoma is proposing two levy measures — a four-year Education Programs and Operational Levy (EP&O) and a four-year technology levy. The resolutions for the levies were passed by the Tahoma Board of Directors during its regular meeting on Oct. 22.
If approved, the EP&O levy will replace an expiring two-year levy which was approved by voters in 2018. It will provide funds for educational services, staffing and supplies that are underfunded, or not funded at all, by the state. If it is not approved, other school programs may be cut from the budget to free up monies for these “unfunded mandates.”
Director Tami Henkel said during the October meeting she hopes voters will approve of the EP&O levy to protect some of the coveted education programs Tahoma offers its students, such as career and technology education classes (CTE), which trains Tahoma students for college programs and possible careers after graduation.
“The CTE program does ready kids for college and to go into a career,” Henkel said. “It’d be really hard for me to have to tell the teachers and the kids ‘sorry’ because we have unfunded mandates.”
The EP&O levy tax rate would be $2.00 per $1,000 of taxable home value, according to the district’s resolution. So for a home valued at $473,700, the median home price of a house in Maple Valley according to Zillow.com, the tax would be $947.40 a year. The new tax rate, if approved, would not go into affect until the current EP&O levy expired. The EP&O levy would collect $17.4 million in 2021 and would increase to $22.3 million by 2024.
The technology levy would fill in a gap left after a previous technology levy measure failed in 2018. The levy is based on a technology plan the district formed and approved in early October, which gives a list of needs and wants for the district. Even with an estimated $16.8 million to be collected over four years if the technology levy passes, items from the original technology plan had to be cut.
According to the district’s levy resolution, the tax rate for the tech levy will be $0.45 per $1,000 of taxable home value starting in the first year, 2020, and by 2024 the levy rate will drop to $0.38 per $1,000 taxable home value. For a median-priced home in Maple Valley, at $473,700, the taxes would start at $227.38 a year.
Both rates for the levy are estimates, which are based on the total assessed property value for the entire school district.
The statements will be created by pro-levy and con-levy committees formed by the district. According to the county committees must be formed by Friday, Dec. 13. The committees will consist of three members of the public, but an unlimited number of non-committee members can “assist” with the statements’ preparation. Each committee must elect a designated spokesperson who will be in contact with the King County Election’s office.
Anyone interested in joining either the pro-levy or con-levy committees should contact Tahoma’s Director of Communication Kevin Patterson by calling 425-413-3409 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to volunteer for the committees is 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12.