Woodland School District patrons again asked to consider replacement Educational Programs and Operations levy

Proposition was rejected by voters in Feb. 11 special election

Woodland School District Superintendent Michael Green understands that patrons of Woodland Public Schools are currently enduring difficult times due to the coronavirus pandemic that has led to the closure of schools to in-person learning for the rest of the school year. Despite that, the district is asking voters to continue to support the district in the form of a replacement of an expiring school support levy.

During a board workshop on April 8, the Woodland Public Schools’ Board of Directors identified $3,000,000 in cuts to educational programs and services that must be made if the community doesn’t approve the district’s replacement Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy. Photo by Mike Schultz
During a board workshop on April 8, the Woodland Public Schools’ Board of Directors identified $3,000,000 in cuts to educational programs and services that must be made if the community doesn’t approve the district’s replacement Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy. Photo by Mike Schultz

The special election for Woodland Public Schools’ replacement levy is April 28 with ballots already mailed to registered voters. Community members can register to vote anytime up until April 20 online at: https://voter.votewa.gov/WhereToVote.aspx. The levy was rejected by voters in the Feb. 11 special election with 55.22 percent voting against the proposition.

“The Board understands that these are unprecedented times and many of our families are under significant economic stress, however, if the community chooses not to pass the replacement levy, our schools will not be able to continue to provide the same high-quality educational opportunities which have led to our district seeing the strongest student performance growth in both Clark and Cowlitz counties,” Green said. “Woodland has a long tradition of supporting and valuing the education we provide our community’s children, and we hope the voters will continue that tradition this April.”

Green and other district officials have tried to emphasize that the levy is not a new tax and would not increase the levy rate of $2.37 per thousand of assessed property value which expires at the end of the current school year.

Woodland Public Schools’ Board of Directors approved a resolution guaranteeing the maximum levy tax rates for the April replacement levy will not exceed the estimated rates in a regular board meeting on March 10.

The directors unanimously passed Resolution 20-03, guaranteeing the rates for the district’s replacement levy will not exceed the estimated rates of $2.37 in 2021, $2.36 in 2022, and $2.36 in 2023. Taxpayers will pay the same tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value next year as they do this year if the replacement levy passes. The levy amount collected would be $5.4 million in 2021, $5.75 million in 2022 and $6.1 million in 2023.

Potential cuts

During a board workshop on April 8, the Woodland Public Schools’ Board of Directors identified $3,000,000 in cuts to educational programs and services that must be made if the community doesn’t approve the district’s replacement Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy.

In addition to budget reductions to nearly every program district-wide, the failure to replace the existing levy will result in nearly 50 school employees losing their jobs. 

“There is no cut on the list that won’t substantially hurt student education in our community,” Green instructed the board at the start of the meeting. “These cuts will reduce staff and drastically hamper efforts to maintain the county-leading growth in student learning our district has enjoyed in recent years.”

Board members scrutinized every program over the course of nearly three hours to develop the following list of program reductions and eliminations that will happen for the 2020-21 school year if the community doesn’t pass the replacement levy on April 28:

School-based reductions

  • Eliminate two (2) or more teaching positions in grades 4-12
  • Eliminate one (1) teacher at Yale School (0.6 FTE)
  • Eliminate twelve (12) paraprofessional/program specialist positions
  • Eliminate 2-3 Classified support positions at Yale School
  • Eliminate Elementary School social worker/counselor positions
  • Eliminate nine (9) custodial positions
  • Eliminate two (2) building-level secretarial positions
  • Eliminate ALE secretarial position (0.5 FTE)
  • Replace assistant principal with Dean of Students at middle school
  • Eliminate vocal music accompanist position
     

Learning Support Program reductions

  • Eliminate one (1) school psychologist position
  • Eliminate physical therapist position
  • Eliminate one (1) certificated and two (2) classified positions from ELL Program
     

Extracurricular and athletic program reductions

  • Reduce high school athletics program to varsity and junior varsity only
  • Reduce district athletic director 0.4 FTE
  • Reduce coaching staff by 20 percent
  • Double athletic participation fees
  • Eliminate extracurricular transportation for all clubs and sports
  • All equipment and officials must be paid by ASB student fundraising
     

District-wide support program reductions

  • Eliminate two-and-a-half (2.5) administrative support positions
  • Eliminate the truancy specialist position
  • Eliminate the Behavior Support specialist position
  • Eliminate two (2) full-time maintenance & grounds positions
  • Eliminate all new curriculum expenditures
  • Reduce staff professional development
  • Eliminate assistant superintendent position
  • Reduce Technology budget by 33 percent
  • Reduce in Communications supports by 50 percent
  • Increase WCC childcare fees

Since the school’s budget year (September-August) does not run concurrent with the calendar year, the half-year of levy funding received in 2020 will be distributed throughout the 2020-2021 school year, resulting in the need for $3,000,000 in cuts instead of $5,000,000 for 2020-2021. 

However, if a replacement levy isn’t passed, the board will need to cut an additional $2,400,000 in programs and services from the 2021-22 school year budget in addition to the cuts listed above to stay within the funding requirements for the district.

Elections information

Community members unable to register online can contact their respective counties’ election offices:

Cowlitz County Election Office: (360) 577-3005

Clark County Election Office: (564) 397-2345

For more information about Woodland Public Schools’ replacement levy, visit the district’s website at: https://www.woodlandschools.org/levy-2020 or call the district office at (360) 841-2700.

Ballots were put in the mail to all registered voters in the Woodland School District on April 10. If a voter does not receive a ballot by Thu., April 16, they should contact the Clark County Elections Office at (564) 397-2345 to request a replacement ballot. Although replacement ballots may be requested in person at the Elections Office, staff strongly encourages voters to request a replacement by email, or by phone. Replacement ballots may also be accessed electronically at clarkvotes.org under “Need a Replacement Ballot?” 

Email requests should be sent to elections@clark.wa.gov. The mailing address is Clark County Elections Office, PO Box 8815, Vancouver, WA 98666-8815. The last day to submit new voter registrations and voter updates to existing registrations online or by mail is 5 p.m., Mon., April 20. Voters may still register and update existing voter registrations after April 20, but must do so in person by 8 p.m. Tue., April 28. Rules regarding social distancing and limiting the number of citizens in the Elections Office will be strictly followed. 

The process of entering the scanned ballot information into the ballot tabulation system will begin at 6 p.m. on Election Day, Tue., April 28. Results will be posted on clarkvotes.org around 8:15 p.m. An online voters’ guide and a sample ballot listing the ballot measure appearing on the April 28 special election is available at the Elections Office website at clarkvotes.org.

Information in this report was provided by Woodland Public Schools.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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