Op-Ed

Whatcom View: School levy accounts for 20 percent of budget

Lynden basketball players celebrate a victory in 2015. On Feb. 9, the Lynden School District is asking voters to replace the district’s expiring educational maintenance and operations levy, which funds about 20 percent of the district’s day-to-day operating budget, including educational programs and activities such as sports.
Lynden basketball players celebrate a victory in 2015. On Feb. 9, the Lynden School District is asking voters to replace the district’s expiring educational maintenance and operations levy, which funds about 20 percent of the district’s day-to-day operating budget, including educational programs and activities such as sports. For The Bellingham Herald

On Feb. 9, the Lynden School District board of directors is seeking voter approval to replace the district’s expiring educational maintenance and operations levy. The four-year maintenance and operations replacement levy (also known as M&O levy):

▪ Represents approximately 20 percent of the district’s day-to-day operating budget;

▪ Supports virtually all school district educational programs;

▪ Replaces the current levy expiring in December 2016;

▪ Funds essential educational programs and activities.

The maintenance and operation levy is not a new tax and is not a capital bond request.

State and federal dollars do not fully fund the day-to-day operations of Lynden schools. To fund the gap, the district relies on the M&O levy to pay for essential educational programs and activities, including:

▪ Textbooks, curriculum materials and teaching supplies;

▪ School safety and security;

▪ Technology for student learning;

▪ Extracurricular activities such as music, drama, art, student clubs and athletics;

▪ Student transportation;

▪ Facility maintenance and grounds upkeep;

▪ Support to maintain reasonable class sizes at all levels (K-12);

▪ Resources for learning-support programs;

▪ Support for highly capable programs;

▪ Additional staffing beyond what the state provides;

▪ Professional development to improve teaching and learning.

Replaces Expiring Levy

The current four-year M&O levy, approved in 2012, expires December 2016. In order to continue the important curricular and extracurricular programs for our students and ensure that our schools run effectively, the Lynden School District is proposing a replacement levy that will run from 2017-2020. The M&O levy represents almost 20 percent of the total school district budget and supports all educational programs and the daily operations of our schools. The M&O levy is not a new tax and is not a capital bond request.

Voters are being asked to approve the following levy amounts:

2016: $5.85 million from a rate of $2.83;

2017: $6.05 million from a rate of $2.84;

2018: $6.250 million from a rate of $2.85;

2019: $6.45 million from a rate of $2.85.

Based on the amount of growth and development in the school district over the past year and the anticipated growth and development over the next four years, it is not expected that a property owner will pay additional taxes even though the district is asking for an increased amount each year. The tax rate for the replacement levy is estimated to be between $2.83 and $2.85 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

This is one in a series of columns about Whatcom County school levies. Jim Frey is superintendent of the Lynden School District. Ballots will be mailed Jan. 20 with drop boxes open from that date until 8 p.m. Feb. 9. One 49-cent stamp is required if you mail your ballot. It must be postmarked by Feb. 9.

  Comments