Tuesday, January 18, 2022
30.0°F

Royal School District voters to decide on EP&O levy

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | December 15, 2021 1:05 AM

ROYAL CITY — Royal School District voters will decide the fate of a replacement educational programs and operations (EP&O) levy in a special election Feb. 8.

If approved, the two-year levy would replace the existing levy approved by voters in 2019. The district would generate $1.37 million each year.

Because it’s a school levy, the proposal requires a bare majority, 50% plus one vote, to pass. Ballots should be mailed to voters by Jan. 24.

If approved, property owners could pay an estimated $1.61 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2023 and $1.59 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2024. That would be about the same as the levy approved in 2019, officials said.

The owner of property valued at $200,000 could pay about $318 in the first year, $322 in the second year. A landowner whose property was valued at $300,000 could pay about $477 in the first year, and about $483 in the second year.

Changes to state law in 2018 capped the amount of money schools can request for a levy, which for 2022 is $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Royal, like other school districts in the state, uses levy money to pay for programs and services that don’t qualify for state funding and to provide extra instruction and support in areas where state funding falls short.

Royal is eligible for levy equalization – a program that provides additional funding from the state to districts that pass a levy, but have lower property values – if the levy passes. District superintendent Roger Trail wrote in an email the 2020-21 school year allocation was $1.548 million, and district officials anticipate similar amounts in the future.

However, all extracurricular activities are funded through the EP&O levy, including athletics, robotics teams, band, science fairs and field trips, among others.

Royal district officials also use some of the money to pay for additional teachers and counselors. State officials use a formula, based on the number of students in school, to determine how many teachers and counselors will be funded through the state. Districts that want more teachers and counselors than the state apportionment pays for – including Royal – make up the difference with locally approved levy funds.

District officials also use levy money to pay for school nurses and student health services, the district’s vocational programs, its career and technical education programs and to upgrade district technology.

Ballots must be postmarked by Feb. 8. Ballots that are mailed from the post office on Feb. 8 may or may not be postmarked with that date. Voters who want to ensure the ballot has the proper postmark can get it at the post office’s customer window.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.

Recent Headlines