In special election, Lynden and Meridian also seek extra dollars for technology and facilities
WHATCOM — County public school districts have finalized the four-year property tax levies they will be asking of voters in the Feb. 11 special election.
All seven public school districts need to replace operational support levies that run out in 2020. Also, Lynden, Meridian and Bellingham ask for special funding in the areas of technology, facilities or special projects.
Although the state Legislature in 2018 took action to reduce the portion of education funding that is paid for at the local level — dealing with inequities presented in the McCleary lawsuit — lawmakers the next year reversed much of what they had done. So now local levies may again be as high as $2.50 per $1,000 of property value, and that will be true in several of the Whatcom districts if the current proposals are passed.
The basic levies are for educational programs and operations, the districts say.
Here’s a recap by district:
The Lynden School District has placed an educational programs and operations levy on the ballot along with a facilities and technology levy. They would account for about 12 percent of the district’s annual budget.
The educational programs and operations levy has a rate of $2.37 per $1,000 of property value in 2021, $2.41 in 2022, $2.46 in 2023 and $2.50 in 2024, if approved.
The operations levy would provide $6.7 million in 2021, $7.2 million in 2022, $7.6 million in 2023 and $8 million in 2024.
The money would give the district the ability to hire additional teachers, counselors and nurses. It would also provide instructional materials and fund student transportation, athletics and extracurricular activities.
The facilities and technology levy is to allow replacements and repairs of older district buildings.
At an average rate of 26 cents per $1,000, it would raise $3.1 million across the four years.
The Nooksack Valley School District also has put a replacement educational programs and operations levy on the ballot.
It will help to create smaller class sizes, add counselors and support staff, fund athletics and other extracurricular activities.
The levy rate in the Nooksack Valley School District would be $2.14 in 2021, $2.27 in 2022, $2.39 in 2023 and $2.50 in 2024.
It would account for about 5 percent of the district’s budget.
Replacement educational programs and operations levies are asked by the Meridian and Mount Baker school districts. Goals are to have smaller class sizes and adequate instructional programs.
The Meridian School District also seeks a technology and capital projects levy at an estimated property tax rate of 40 cents per $1,000 of property value all four years, 2021 through 2024. The levy would raise $644,403 to start and end at $767,494.
The programs and operations levy rate in the Meridian School District would be the same as the 2019 rate of $2.50 per $1,000 of property value.
The levy rate in the Mount Baker School District would be $2.50 per $1,000 of property value.
The proposed programs and operations levy for the Ferndale School District is at a $2.50 rate for all four years, raising $15.36 million each year, according to school board action.
The levy would help pay for staff, athletics, clubs, music and foreign languages not covered by state funding.
If approved, the levy would account for about 13 percent of the district’s budget.
Ballots for the Feb. 11 special election will be mailed out by the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office on Jan. 22.
The last day for doing voter registration and address changes online is Monday, Feb. 3, by which also any mailed-in papers must be received at the auditor’s office. After that through election day, it’s possible to come in-person to the County Courthouse, 311 Grand Ave., Bellingham.