District officials state that over 100 positions are at risk, including 40 teachers and all coaches, if levies fail again
Due to the failure of the Washougal School District replacement EP&O and Capital levies on the Feb. 14 ballot, the Washougal Board of Directors proposed two levies on the April 25 special eElection ballot to support and sustain student-centered programs in Washougal schools. Levies fill a 20 percent gap in the Washougal School District budget which is unfunded by state and federal dollars.
“Schools would not look the same without levy funds,” said Superintendent Dr. Mary Templeton. Without this levy funding, Washougal School District would be unable to fund school extracurriculars, athletics, performing arts, classroom teachers to maintain smaller class sizes, technology devices, and more.
“Levies pay the people on the ground at schools, teaching and supporting Washougal youth,” stated Templeton. “The reality is that without levy funding, significant cuts would need to be made to school staffing, which is 85 percent of the budget.” A list of cuts that would be needed in the event of a double levy failure was reviewed with the board at their February 28, 2023 meeting. The list is available on the district website, and includes 40 teaching positions, 44 classified staff positions, 5 administrative positions, and 155 coaches and club advisors.
“Levies are important to strong schools and a strong community,” said Templeton. The Washougal School Board has scheduled listening tours to gather feedback from patrons about the recent levy results, and has shared a survey with district parents, staff, and community members.
Reintroducing the measures on the April ballot provides opportunities for the district to correct misconceptions and misunderstandings of the proposed levies that have surfaced in conversations with voters and in the survey results. The board has highlighted the need to clearly communicate that the levies are not new taxes, talk directly about the impact on student programs should the levies fail again, and ensure voters understand value of the programs and staff supported directly by the levies.
“Our youth need opportunities to engage in positive after-school activities. The local levy is the way school districts in Washington state fund the sports and clubs that engage kids,” said Jim Cooper, WSD board member. “Can you imagine what the Washougal community would be like with 1000 teenagers hanging out after school with nothing positive to do?”
These are not new taxes; they replace the EP&O Levy and Tech Levy expiring at the end of 2023. Combined, the proposed EP&O and Capital levy rates are lower than school levy rates approved by Washougal voters in 2020. The EP&O levy is proposed at a rate of $1.99 per thousand of assessed valuation, which is lower than the previously approved $2.14 rate. The EP&O and Capital levies work in tandem to fund student programs, staffing, and keep schools in good repair.
Patrons are invited to Listening Tours hosted by the Washougal School Board to gather feedback from patrons about the recent levy results. At these events, patrons can sit and chat with a board member, ask questions, and share ideas about our schools. Patrons can also provide feedback to the school board via a survey. Listening tours are scheduled for March 16 & 28, and April 11 and 21. Time and location information is available on the Washougal School District website.
Information provided by Washougal School District.
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