Battle Ground School Board approves four-year replacement levy for November 2 ballot

A request of about $500,000 more was defeated by voters in February

Battle Ground Public Schools’ Board of Directors voted July 15 to send a replacement four-year Educational Programs and Operations Levy to voters on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

“A lot has happened and changed since we last ran the levy.  What has not changed is the amount needed to fund student programs that are not funded by the state,” said Board President Mark Watrin. “We have more information now about growth in the district that allows us to ask for a lower and consistent levy rate for the next four years.  The board sees this as a win-win for both students and citizens, and we hope our community will support this stability for our youth.”

In a news release announcing the decision, Battle Ground School District (BGSD) officials stated that the levy is not a new tax. It would replace the existing local levy that expires at the end of 2021. 

“Local levies help the district to continue current educational programs and maintain critical day-to-day school operations that the state does not fund,’’ stated the BGSD release. “These include student technology, advanced courses, athletics, extracurricular activities, music, nursing, transportation, special education, student safety, building maintenance, as well as additional school staff to help provide a safe and supportive learning environment for students across the district.

In the 2020-21 school year, local levy funding accounted for about 14 percent of the district’s overall budget, or nearly $29 million. The district’s request for 2022 and 2023 is less than it is collecting in 2021.

According to the BGSD, if approved by voters, property owners within the district would see their local school tax rate decline by approximately 15 percent over 2021. The proposed rate of $1.99 per $1,000 of assessed property value would raise an estimated $26.75 million in 2022, $28.2 million in 2023, $29.65 million in 2024, and $31.1 million in 2025 to fund essential student programs and services not currently covered by the state’s K-12 educational funding model.

It is estimated that a homeowner living in the Battle Ground district with a house valued at $450,000 will see their local school property tax drop by $123 in 2022 over 2021. The actual impact on property owners will depend on their change in assessed value. The total amount of the levy is fixed each year, and cannot increase even if the district’s assessed value increases.

“Battle Ground Public Schools continues to do more with less, retaining the lowest local tax rate of all K-12 districts in Clark County,’’ officials stated in the July 16 new release. “As an example, the total local tax rate for Battle Ground school district in 2021 was $2.88 per $1,000, including a $0.56 bond which expires at the end of 2023. That rate is nearly a dollar less than Evergreen Public Schools, and two dollars below Camas School District.’’

“Battle Ground Public Schools offers a wide array of educational options and supports that meet the needs of all students and provides them a pathway to a successful future,” said Superintendent Denny Waters. “Local levy funding is critical to continuing these programs and giving every student opportunities that drive their passion for learning.”

The board of directors decided to put the replacement levy before voters after a similar levy request failed to pass in the February special election. The total amount requested on the November ballot over four years is about $500,000 less than the February request. The district will use its rainy day fund to offset the difference. The replacement levy amount is calculated to allow the district to maintain approximately the same educational programs and operations purposes as the expiring levy. 

Information provided by Battle Ground School District.

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