CHELAN — Lake Chelan School District voters are invited to a Nov. 20 meeting to learn more about two replacement tax levies expected to be put on the Feb. 13 special election ballot.

The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at the district office, 309 E. Johnson Ave.

Information provided will cover new state rules surrounding educational programs and operations (EP&O) levies, previously known as maintenance and operations (M&O) levies, including how the money can be spent. District officials also hope to gather input on how to prioritize the needs of the district that are underfunded by the state.

“This will serve to assist the school board in developing the levy proposal prior to authorizing a resolution for the ballot in February,” Superintendent Barry DePaoli said.

Dec. 13 is the deadline for placing tax measures on the Feb. 11 special election ballot.

Voters in April rejected a proposed $75.5 million construction bond proposal that would have built a new high school, turned the existing high school into a middle school and renovated the elementary school and sports fields. The proposed levies would fund programs, operations and technology and do not involve construction.

This is the first EP&O levy being put to Chelan voters since state rules changed in 2017 as part of the McCleary fix — the Legislature’s answer to a court order to fully fund education.

The district is proposing a two-year EP&O levy that would generate about $3.5 million per year in 2021 and 2022, extending a four-year levy voters approved in 2016. The other ballot measure is a four-year technology levy that would extend the current levy through 2024. The tech levy would raise $250,000 per year.

The combined rates on the levies — the cost charged to property owners for every $1,000 of property value — are expected to drop from previous years because property values have increased. As property values go up, it takes fewer $1,000 increments to collect the same amount of money. The rate change is not a direct correlation to whether individual taxpayers will pay more or less. That calculation would also include changes to assessed property values.

The actual rates are expected to be finalized by the county assessor sometime in December once the assessed property values countywide have been set. Until then, the rates are considered estimates.

The current estimated cost for the two levies in 2021 is $1.34 for every $1,000 of assessed value, with $1.25 from the EP&O levy and 8.4 cents from the tech levy. In 2019, homeowners paid $1.41 total and are expected to pay $1.38 in 2020.

The EP&O money would be used to pay for:

  • Enrichment activities and programs, including athletics, after-school programs, clubs, and music, art and drama programs
  • Student support: nurses, school resource officer, liaisons, counselors
  • Maintenance and operations: additional food service staff
  • Academic programs and classroom support: early learning programs, curriculum materials, highly capable programs, College in the High School courses, STEM learning and Chelan School of Innovation
  • Enhanced high school schedule that creates opportunities for acceleration, exploration and remediation

The technology levy would pay for replacement of aging computers and related equipment, along with staff training. It also would fund online courses, network and wireless upgrades, school bus safety software, emergency alert systems and more.

For information on the proposal, call Superintendent Barry DePaoli at 682-3515.

Nevonne McDaniels: 664-7151

mcdaniels@wenatcheeworld.com