EAST WENATCHEE — Residents in the Eastmont School District voted to pass a levy to renew a four-year maintenance-and-operations levy. The levy has provided about 15 percent of the district’s general-fund budget for the past four years.
The current levy is set to expire at the end of 2013 and the renewal levy would take effect in the beginning of 2014.
57.56 percent of voters supported the renewal levy, which will continue to pay for improvements to core math, science and English classes, counseling, non-curriculum classes like music and drama, after-school activities and sports. It will also fund maintenance and repairs to school buildings and buses, said Superintendent Garn Christensen.
About one in eight teachers have been paid with levy money for the past four years. The new levy will continue to pay those teachers and help to keep wages and benefits competitive for all employees, Christensen said. The money will also provide textbooks, classroom equipment, materials, supplies and technology.
Christensen said he is excited voters were supportive of the levy and of education. The money will allow the district to move forward with long term plans they wouldn’t otherwise be able to fund.
“It’s how I believe communities get better,” he said.
In 2014, the levy will cost taxpayers $3.21 per $1,000 of assessed property value, a 10 cent increase from 2013. Each year until 2017, the cost will increase about 10 cents per $1,000 in property value every year until the levy expires in 2017. For a $200,000 property, that means $642 in 2014 and $701 in 2017.
State cuts to education cost Eastmont about $2.4 million over the three-year period from 2011 to 2013, said Cindy Ulrich, the district’s executive finance director. Christensen said those cuts hurt.
“We haven’t had new dollars come into the system,” he said. “Employees have had essentially frozen checks. We have employees whose paycheck is smaller now than it was four years ago.”
Besides losing about $8 million per year from the current budget, if the levy doesn’t pass, the district won’t receive an additional $2.7 million in Local Effort Assistance money from the state. These funds hinge on the levy because the state will only contribute if the community is also supporting the school.
Click here the Oct. 11 story.
Click here for the Wenatchee World editorial board endorsement of the Eastmont levy.
Kaylin Bettinger 664-7146