The Battle Ground Public Schools Board of Directors recently decided unanimously to dip into the district’s reserve fund and put a replacement levy before voters. The replacement levy is less than current school levy rate and will be on the Feb. 9, 2021, special election ballot.
The levy is not a new tax and if approved will replace the levy that expires at the end of 2021. The local levy will allow the district to maintain educational programs and day-to-day school operations such as student technology, additional school staff and building maintenance.
According to a press release sent out by the district, it is estimated that property owners in the district will see a decrease in their local schools tax rate of 39 cents in 2022 compared to 2021. The local levy rate is projected to be $1.95 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2022.
The Board of Directors at Battle Ground Public Schools have been contributing to the district’s reserve fund over the past couple of years in case of a need, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, arose. Because the pandemic has had economic impacts on many families in the community, directors decided that providing relief to the community was a good use of the reserve funds.
"I don't like to have to use the reserve fund, but COVID is one of those things that makes it necessary," Board President Troy McCoy said in the news release.
Key points of the district's replacement levy are:
• Replacement levy will decrease taxes by about 39 cents per $1,000 the first year (2022) to $1.95 per $1,000.
• The district plans to dip into its rainy day reserve fund and drop the tax rate as low as it can the first year
• Battle Ground Public Schools has the lowest property tax rate of all K-12 districts in Clark County
• The levy will allow the district to maintain critical student programs and activities and maintain facilities
• The levy will be for four years, 2022–2025
According to the release, the levy will go to a projected rate of $2.20 per $1,000 after the first year. This rate will still be less than the current levy rate by about 14 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The replacement levy will last for four years and is projected to provide 14 percent of the district's operating budget.
“The levy covers the needs of the district” Board Member Monty Anderson said. “We tried to look at it in several ways for the community and give a good solid package that would be supported.”
Along with paying for basic services such as providing enough funds to keep class sizes small and supplying technology, levy dollars also pay for high school and upcoming middle school sports, health services, music and art classes, drug prevention education and more. The levy also funds textbooks and other curricula, transportation and building maintenance.
“This levy will help Battle Ground maintain the funding for essential student programs and services," McCoy said. "Local support is critical to providing a variety of programs that appeal to a wide range of students, to supporting special needs students, and to maintaining facilities. The state does not cover or fully cover many of these critical components of education."
According to the news release, the levy funds will provide approximately $24.9 million in 2022, $29.2 million in 2023, $30.4 million in 2024 and $31.6 million in 2025 (based on the predicted increase of assessed property values) and will bridge the gap between the basic education funding provided by the state and the current operating budget of the district. In addition, if voters approve the levy, the Battle Ground district will be eligible to receive about $2 million in levy equalization funds from the state over the four-year period. The tax rate for the replacement levy will be lower than the current rate.
"We appreciate the support that our community has given to our students over the years," Superintendent Mark Ross said. "We continue to need that support to provide the programs and opportunities that prepare our students for a successful future."
Levy information will be available on the district's website and social media outlets, and through public presentations. In addition, questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or called into (360) 885-5470.