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Ephrata School District voters to decide fate of four-year levy proposal

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | January 13, 2021 1:00 AM

EPHRATA — Ephrata School District voters will decide the fate of a four-year educational program and operation levy in a special election Feb. 9.

Ballots will be delivered to district voters between Jan. 20 and 22.

If the levy is approved, it will generate $1.855 million in 2022, $2.004 million in 2023, $2.113 million in 2024 and $2.230 million in 2025.

The levy rate charged to property owners would be an estimated $1.85 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2022, $1.94 per $1,000 in 2023, $1.99 per $1,000 in 2024 and $2.03 per $1,000 in 2025. If it’s approved, a person owning property valued at $200,000 would pay $370 in 2022, $388 in 2023, $398 in 2024 and $406 in 2025.

District superintendent Tim Payne said district officials usually offer a four-year levy proposal, so district officials aren’t returning to voters every year, or every other year.

“It’s the stability piece,” Payne said. “Especially right now.”

Ephrata also is eligible for levy equalization, a state program where districts with relatively lower property values receive additional money from the state, but that money only is only allocated to districts that pass a local EP&O levy. Ephrata would be eligible for $2.64 million in levy equalization in 2022, $2.72 million in 2023, $2.791 million in 2024 and $2.797 million in 2025.

The money generated through the levy is used for programs state education funds can’t or don’t pay for. Payne said about two-thirds of the levy goes toward the district’s extracurricular programs. That includes salaries for coaches, the cost of using the bus and the salary for the driver, along with athletic supplies and some maintenance.

The remaining one-third goes toward school security, technology, transportation, food service, maintenance and training. But Payne said most of the levy money pays for people.

He cited technology as an example. The levy pays for computers and software, but it also pays some of the personnel costs in the district’s IT department.

State basic education funding doesn’t pay all the costs associated with education in Ephrata, Payne said, either in number of employees or in salaries. Districts can use levy money to make up some of the difference between the state allocation and the actual cost, he said.