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Warden School District voters to weigh in on two levies

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | December 23, 2021 1:05 AM

WARDEN — Warden School District voters will decide the fate of two levy requests in a special election Feb. 8.

District voters will be asked whether to choose a two-year educational programs and operations (EP&O) levy, and a separate two-year levy for technology upgrades. Both will require simple majorities, 50% plus one vote, to pass, said WSD Superintendent Scott West.

If it’s approved, the EP&O levy would replace the existing levy approved by voters in 2020. The technology levy would replace an existing levy approved in 2019, designed to improve campus security.

The EP&O levy is projected to generate about $1.26 million in the first year and about $1.32 million in the second year if it’s approved. Property owners would pay $2.20 per $1,000 of assessed property value each year.

If the levy is approved, the owner of property worth $200,000 could pay $440 in taxes, while the owner of property worth $300,000 would pay $660 in taxes.

The technology levy would generate an estimated $143,149 in the first year and an estimated $150,306 in the second year. If the levy is approved, property owners would pay 20 cents per $1,000 of property value. A property owner with land valued at $200,000 could pay $40 in taxes each year, and a property owner with property valued at $300,000 could pay $60 in taxes each year.

West said the EP&O levy money is used to pay for additional staffing and programs state funding doesn’t cover, or doesn’t cover completely.

All extracurricular activities, from athletics to high school clubs to field trips, are funded through the levy. In Warden, the levy also pays for additional teachers and counselors, custodians and the school nurse, West said. It also supplements the district’s early learning (pre-kindergarten) programs and some maintenance and transportation expenses.

The separate technology levy would be used, if it’s approved, to upgrade the district’s existing technology and replace what needs replacing.

Warden school officials were committed to ensuring each student had a computer or other device even before the COVID-19 pandemic, West said. That project was accelerated by the pandemic, and all students now have electronic devices, he said. But devices wear out, and the technology levy would be used to pay for replacements, as well as other expenses associated with maintaining the system.

“Acquiring and installing and implementing the equipment in our district,” West said. “All the networking, what it takes to keep a district-wide system up and running.”

The technology levy does include some money for security upgrades, including adding more cameras and upgrading existing ones. District officials changed the entries to district buildings to increase security. Now, district officials are moving toward keyless entries and using key cards for access, West said.

Voters should receive their ballots in January by mail at their registered address and votes must be returned by 8 p.m. Feb. 8.

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