Coupeville school levy goes to voters

Approximately 20 percent of the money funding the Coupeville School District comes from local levy dollars.

Coupeville School District officials will ask voters to continue paying that levy during an all-mail election Feb. 7. That levy has to pass by a 60 percent supermajority for approval. Ballots will arrive in the mail late next week.

School officials are asking for the maximum amount allowed by state law, which is 24 percent of the state and federal dollars the school district receives. Should voters approve the four-year levy, the school district would collect an estimated $1,935,578 in 2007, which will increase to $2,338,080 in 2011.

The levy rate would increase each year from a low of $1.36 per $1,000 assessed property value in 2007 to a high of $1.42 in 2011.

In 2005, taxpayers paid $1.297 per $1,000 assessed property value, which is the third lowest rate in Island, Skagit and Snohomish counties. South Whidbey ($1.218) and Oak Harbor ($0.699) had lower levy rates.

The Coupeville School District has asked for the maximum amount possible for a number of years, said Janet Fisher, business manager.

She added voters within the district have never rejected a school levy.

“We have a very supportive community and we really appreciate that,” Fisher said.

One concern among levy supporters is possible confusion between the operations levy and the bond voters approved in 2004, said Donna Keeler, chair of the Friends of Coupeville Schools, the volunteer community group promoting the levy.

The bond voters approved last year funds construction projects such as the new high school. The levy funds school programs and employee salaries.

“It pays for teachers and it pays for a lot of our classified staff,” Fisher said. Currently, the levy funds salaries for 2.5 teaching positions. It also pays for school nurses, counselors and librarians. The levy also provides money for coaches and advisors for athletics and extra-curricular activities. It funds the district’s learning Partners program, which is an after-school tutoring program that involves local residents.

Fisher added the levy also helps fund transportation needed to get students to and from school. The state pays two-thirds of the district’s transportation program while levy dollars cover the remainder.

The school district recently completed a $268,000 grant program from the Gates Foundation, which helped pay for new computers and other technology purchases. Now the school district needs the levy dollars to maintain and update that technology.

Ballots for a all-mail in election go into the mailbox on Wednesday, Jan. 18, according to the Island County Auditor’s Office.

In the weeks leading up to the election, volunteers and school officials are busy informing voters about levy specifics.

Voters living within Coupeville School District boundaries should have received a four-page pamphlet outlining the costs and goals of the replacement levy.

Superintendent Bill Myhr and Fisher are speaking to various community groups in the area. The League of Women Voters is holding a public meeting Wednesday, Jan.18, 7 p.m., at the Coupeville High School’s Performing Arts Center. During that meeting, Myhr will outline the district’s levy proposal and answer questions from the public.

Friends of Coupeville Schools also produced a brochure that was mailed out to voters. Volunteers also have 100 signs that will be posted in various areas throughout the district, Keeler said.

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