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Warden School District voters to decide fate of EP&O levy

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | October 26, 2020 1:00 AM

WARDEN — Warden School District voters will decide the fate of a two-year educational programs and operations levy during the general election Nov. 3.

If approved, the levy would generate $1,082,316 in 2021 and $1,168,901 in 2022. Property owners would pay an estimated $2 per $1,000 of assessed property value, which means the owner of a house valued at $250,000 would pay $500 per year in property taxes.

Because it’s a school EP&O levy, it requires a bare majority, 50 percent plus one vote, to be approved.

If it’s approved, the levy would replace the maintenance and operations levy approved by voters in 2018. In 2018 the Washington Legislature revised the programs that could be funded through the levy, which changed the name of the levy itself.

The district would be eligible for an estimated $836,895 in levy equalization funding from the state if the levy passes. Levy equalization is a state program that provides extra state funding for districts that pass a levy but have relatively lower property values.

Warden superintendent Dave LaBounty said the levy request is 13 cents higher than the 2018 levy. That reflects additional expenses, as well as programs and services for children that aren’t paid for in education funds provided by the state and federal governments. Health insurance costs have gone up, LaBounty said, and not all of the costs are covered. Levy money covers some gaps in federally funded programs.

In Warden, the levy includes money for some teaching and counseling positions, custodians and the school nurse, among other personnel. Levy money goes into updating curriculum and technology, the district’s early learning programs, as well as some maintenance costs, among other things.

All extracurricular activities are funded through levy money, including all middle school and high school sports. Warden has a no-cut policy, LaBounty said, which can contribute to higher expenses. Levy funds pay for all extracurricular activities, such as elementary school field trips, high school clubs like FFA and activities like middle school and high school band.