Voters in Evergreen, Ridgefield and La Center school districts reject funding requests

Hockinson voters approve four-year replacement levy; Vancouver voters approve funding for Vancouver Fire Department


Three out of four requests for funding from area school districts were failing approval by voters in the first results of the Feb. 8 special election released by the Clark County Elections Department Tuesday evening.

Voters in the Evergreen School District were decisively rejecting a three-year replacement levy that would provide funding for educational programs and operations. The levy, which required approval of a simple majority of voters, received just 40.61 percent approval and 59.39 percent of the voters were opposed. 

In the Ridgefield School District, voters were asked to consider a $62.5 million bond to fund expansion and construction projects. As of Tuesday night, 57.31 percent of the voters supported the bond (42.69 percent were against), which falls short of the 60 percent needed for passage. 

Hockinson voters approve four-year replacement levy; Vancouver voters approve funding for Vancouver Fire Department.
File photo

Voters in the La Center School District were rejecting a three-year replacement levy to continue funding current educational programs and operations. The initial returns showed 45.78 percent of voters approving the levy and 54.22 percent rejecting it.

Voters in the Hockinson School District appear to have passed a four-year replacement levy for school programs and operations. The early returns showed 52.10 percent of voters were approving the levy, which needed just a simple majority for approval.

Here is a closer look at the requests for funding by the four area school districts:

Evergreen School District

The Board of Directors of Evergreen School District adopted Resolution No. 6578 concerning renewal of an expiring levy for educational programs and operations. This proposition would have provided funding for programs and expenses not funded by the state. If approved, Proposition No. 5 would have authorized the district to levy the following excess taxes, on all taxable property within the district.

In 2023, the estimated levy rate is $1.92 per $1,000 of assessed value and the total collected would be $48.5 million. The levy rate increases to $2.12 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2024 ($56.9 million collected) and 2025 ($59.7 million collected).

This proposition would authorize the Evergreen School District to replace an expiring educational programs and operations levy. The taxes collected by this three-year levy would continue to fund existing educational programs and operations including staff to reduce class sizes, safety programs, security staff, school nurses and counselors, performing arts, field trips, athletic and extracurricular activities, and local support to bridge funding gaps in Special Education, English Language Learners, Highly Capable and Transportation programs. The educational programs and operations levy provides approximately 12 percent of the district’s General Fund budget. 

Additional information is available at https://www.evergreenps.org.

Hockinson School District

The Board of Directors of Hockinson School District adopted Resolution No. 21-22-02, concerning a proposition to continue funding current school programs and operations. 

This proposition would authorize the district to levy the following excess taxes, replacing an expiring levy, on all taxable property within the district, for school programs and operations expenses not funded by the state (including extracurricular activities, athletics, technology, advanced courses, music, nursing, transportation, special education and student safety).

The estimated levy rate in each of the four years is $1.89 per $1,000 of assessed value. The total levy amount to be collected in 2023 is $4.075 million followed by $4.3 million in 2024, $4.525 million in 2025 and $4.775 million in 2026.   

This proposition authorizes Hockinson School District to replace an expiring school programs and operations levy. The taxes collected by this levy will continue funding current school programs and operations including extracurricular activities, athletics, technology, advanced courses, music, theater, nursing, transportation, special education and student safety. 

Further information is available: https://www.hocksd.org. Taxes collected by the proposed levy, together with state levy equalization money that is contingent upon passage of the levy, will provide approximately 10 percent of the district’s General Fund budget. Exemptions from taxes may be available, call Clark County Assessor (564) 397-2391.

La Center School District

The Board of Directors of La Center School District adopted Resolution No. 2021/2022-1, concerning a proposition to continue funding current educational programs and operations. This proposition would have authorized the district to levy the following excess taxes, replacing an expiring levy, on all taxable property within the district, for educational programs and operations expenses not funded by the state (including technology, advanced courses, athletics, extracurricular activities, music, nursing, transportation, special education and student safety).

In all three years, the estimated levy rate would be $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value. In 2023, $2,635,172 would be collected followed by $2,819,501 in 2024 and $3,016,734 in 2025.

The taxes collected by this levy would continue funding current educational programs and operations including technology, advanced courses, athletics, extracurricular activities, music, nursing, transportation, special education and student safety. 

Further information is available at https://www.lacenterschools.org/. Taxes collected by the proposed levy, together with state levy equalization money that is contingent upon passage of the levy, will provide approximately 10.4 percent of the district’s General Fund budget. Exemptions from taxes may be available, call Clark County Assessor (564) 397-2391.

Ridgefield School District

The Board of Directors of Ridgefield School District approved Resolution No. 2021-2022-003 concerning this proposition for bonds. 

This proposition would authorize the district to construct and equip a new elementary school and 8-plex classroom building at the new school site, and a new vocational and general education building at Ridgefield High School, by issuing $62,565,000 of general obligation bonds maturing within 21 years; and to levy excess property taxes annually to repay the bonds, as described in Resolution No. 2021-2022-003. 

Proposition No. 7 would authorize the district to issue up to $62,565,000 of general obligation bonds to construct and equip a new K-4 elementary school, which will initially open as a K-6 school, an 8-plex classroom building at the new elementary school site, and an approximately 18,000 square foot vocational/general education building at Ridgefield High School. 

The district expected to receive approximately $9,700,000 in state matching funds for the projects. If approved, the district would be authorized to levy property taxes annually to repay the bonds.

Vancouver Proposition 2

Voters in the city of Vancouver appear to have approved a levy lid lift that is designed to produce $15 million annually in additional funding for the Vancouver Fire Department. The first results showed it passing with 52.73 percent approval.

If approved, the proposition would authorize an increase to the city’s regular property tax levy by $0.50/$1,000 assessed valuation, not to exceed a total rate of $2.56/$1,000 for collection in 2023. Increased revenues would fund additional personnel to improve response times, equipment, the replacement and seismic retrofitting of fire stations, and other enhancements to fire and emergency services. The 2023 levy amount would be used to calculate subsequent levies. Qualifying seniors, veterans and others would be exempt.

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Brian Hebert
Brian Hebert
3 months ago

I hope you are right, Hockinson has worked hard and deserves this for their kids. Might want to check your early return numbers though.

Ken Vance, Editor
Admin
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Hebert

Thanks for pointing out my error in the percentage. Story has been corrected with the correct percentage.

K.J. Hinton
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Hebert

If only money equaled outcomes. It doesn’t, so it’s not really a matter of what they deserve.

Margaret
Margaret
3 months ago

For the first time, statements for and against these tax hike proposals were mailed to voters for these “Special Elections”. I hope CCTODAY will be certain to include the link to election online statements for and against ballot measures prior to future elections, whether it be a primary, general, or “special” election. This is a link to the online voter’s pamphlet https://clark.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2021-12/Voters%27%20Pamphlet%20for%20February%208%2C%202022%20Election_0.pdf

Wolfie
Wolfie
3 months ago

This is the 3rd time Ridgefield voters are saying no. Many feel the last pot of money was woefully mismanaged..shiny new ball fields and massive track when the high school has a track! More classrooms could have been built but half of them were empty on opening day. Do better amd stop bleeding pockets dry!

Citizen Infinity
Citizen Infinity
3 months ago

Enough with the tax hikes already. We have had enough. The mismanagement of funds at the top is staggering. Our property taxes are already through the roof. Subdivision after subdivision being built with 600-700k homes. Every property owner is suffering enough. Its out of control and it’s never going to be enough. Go to the builders and developers who are fat and happy that are turning our beautiful farming community into Portland/Vancouver 2.0 and get the money from them. Stop asking the hard working tax payers of Ridgefield to pay more and more. Enough of this already.

Anthony Lynch
Anthony Lynch
3 months ago

The Evergreen replacement levy statement for was just a complete lie claiming it just maintained the current level of funding even though they have an increase in year 2 despite property values skyrocketing over the past few year. They have also opted to protect abusive adults rather then students. Then the board chose to buyout the superintendents contract rather then fire him for cause despite how outrageous his conduct was. It’s time for schools to focus on there purpose of educating students. I want them to due a full evaluate every administrative position and ask themselves, does this position improve the educational outcome of our students? Why do we need a principal, assistant principal, and a dean of students in every school? Heck, Evergreen high school has 3 assistant principals.

Gary Wilson
3 months ago
Reply to  Anthony Lynch

Totally agree with you Anthony. I wrote the Opposed Statement to the ESD Levy and I invite you to come to the next board meeting on Feb. 22nd. You don’t have to speak but I will and have several times in the last 6 months. It starts @ 5:30 but the comments portion is not until 6:30 or so depending on the agenda. It’s at their admin building off 136th. The parents of ESD decidedly and overwhelmingly sent a definite message to this board and I will drive that point home at the next board meeting.

Chris Young
Chris Young
3 months ago

Tax revenues are skyrocketing, in spite of the Pandemic, class rooms, athletic fields and after school events closed/canceled and yet the districts are claiming poverty and need of new facilities. Given that the final figures were not in at the time of the requests (probably still are not in), but the student load in most districts has fallen due to new Homeschoolers, transfer to Private schools or movement out of the district(s). IMHO, schools have been tasked with far too many “Non-educational” demands (health clinics, free breakfast/lunch for students and many other political “hot button” items), to the detriment of the core reason for their existence: Teach the children Math, Reading, Writing, Comprehension and basic life skills (How to budget, finance, cook, basic job skills).

Susan
Susan
3 months ago
Reply to  Chris Young

schools have been tasked with far too many “Non-educational” demands (health clinics, free breakfast/lunch for students and many other political “hot button” items), to the detriment of the core reason for their existence: Teach the children Math, Reading, Writing, Comprehension and basic life skills (How to budget, finance, cook, basic job skills)”…. man, oh man, did you ever hit the nail on the head!

Agreed… the school districts always have a reason for “the sky is falling and we need even more money”! They are simply out of touch with reality; they have become like the government… a beast whose existence is to grow bigger and bigger.

Susan
Susan
3 months ago

Vancouver prop 2… another example of how (seemingly) there’s not a tax that Vancouver voters don’t love! Really? Am I the oddball, or isn’t everyone’s property taxes going through the roof?!?! When do we start holding city leaders accountable for proper fiscal management?

Of course, the city knew what they were doing. They put it on the ballot for an election that was almost guaranteed to have a poor turnout. This prop 2, that raises property taxes without any sunset-date, was passed by ~53% of the ~21% that voted. This means that about 11% of eligible voters approved a significant tax increase for every property owner in Vancouver.

I’ll continue to vote ‘no’ on every tax increase or additional fee that appears on a ballot, just for the general principle. The city and VSD are totally out of control, and are completely out of touch with the real world in which us homeowners have to live.

Bo Lee
Bo Lee
3 months ago

I think people are losing faith in public education and how the levy money is spent. Covid closures made the problem worse. Battle Ground struggled with their levy too. It took a couple of tries and a downgrade in the “ask” to get it passed.