In the fall of 2015, a levy task force of 22 staff, students and community members was convened in anticipation of two levies that are set to expire at the end of 2016 – the district’s current four-year Maintenance and Operations levy and current four-year Capital Projects Technology levy.
The Levy Task Force spent several weeks together throughout the fall, learning about how public schools in the state of Washington are funded, including the Methow Valley School District. The Levy Task Force also engaged in critical analysis of the Methow Valley School District’s annual operating budget – closely examining current levies, bonds, and combined tax rates, trends in assessed valuation in the Methow Valley, student enrollment projections, and comparative analysis of combined bond/levy rates regionally and statewide. Through this process, the Levy Task Force learned that the combined levy rates associated with our schools are among the lowest within the region and lowest in comparison to districts with similarly assessed value across the state.
What did we Learn?
Maintenance and Operations: What Does it Fund?
The Levy Task Force learned that in the absence of adequate state funding of basic education, the district’s Maintenance and Operations levy, representing approximately 26% of the district’s annual operating budget provides critical funding in support of:
- Adequate compensation for employees
- Lower class sizes
- Classroom supplies and teaching resources
- Enriching educational programs such as music, arts, Spanish, robotics, engineering, athletics, and many others in support of the development of the whole child
- Maintenance of our facilities
- Many other vital programs and services throughout our district
The Levy Task Force learned that by maintaining the past pattern of increasing the district’s Maintenance and Operations levy by $50,000 each of the four year while assuming no growth in the assessed valuation of property in the Methow Valley, the projected increase in the Maintenance and Operations levy to a homeowner owning a house assessed at $250,000 would be $.83 per month.
Capital Projects-Technology Levy: What Does it Fund?
In addition to learning about the important role that the district’s Maintenance and Operations levy plays in support of the district’s staffing, class sizes, professional development of staff, and educational programing, the Levy Task Force also learned about the district’s past, present, and future efforts to strategically invest in the integration of technology in the classroom as part of the district’s educational program. More specifically, the Levy Task Force learned that previous and current technology levies (2010, 2012), each representing approximately 2% of the district’s annual operating budget, have focused on establishing the initial foundation in the form of infrastructure, mobile devices, and personnel… critical first steps. However, the Levy Task Force noted that important work lies ahead if the district is to successfully increases student access and achieve full integration of technology in support of teaching and learning. After reviewing the updated 2017 – 2020 Technology Plan presented by the district’s Technology Committee, the Levy Task Force applauded their effort to develop a coherent plan that closely aligns with the district’s vision of full integration and increased student access to current technologies, supports engaging approaches to teaching and learning, and promotes increased readiness for a wide range of post-secondary options.
Highlights associated with the proposed 2017 – 2020 Technology Plan, a fundamental part of the district’s educational program, include:
- Education focused on the responsible use of technology and digital citizenship
- District-wide 1:1 ratio of student access to technology within and outside of the classroom
- Student access to industry standard technologies related to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) and Career and Technical Education
- Student access to adaptive technology for students that qualify for special education services and accommodations
- Staffing to provide on-going professional development in the use of technology
- Staffing to maintain equipment, software licensure, and a reliable infrastructure
The Levy Task Force learned that the recommendation to increase the four-year Capital Projects-Technology Levy from 1.1 million to $2,225,000 over the next four years would result in an increase in the projected Capital Projects-Technology Levy rate by approximately $4.17 per month for a homeowner that owns a home assessed at $250,000.
Levy Task Force Recommendation
After careful consideration, research, and deliberation, the Methow Valley Levy Task Force unanimously recommended the superintendent present the Methow Valley School District Board of Directors with two resolutions that initiate the following action:
- Replace the current M&O Levy set to expire at the end of 2016 with a $1,800,000, four-year Maintenance and Operations levy, set to increase by $50,000 each successive year of the four-year term.
- Replace the expiring Technology Levy set to expire at the end of 2016 with a four-year, $2,225,000 Capital Projects-Technology Levy.
The Methow Valley School District Levy Task Force concluded by sharing their appreciation for the continued support provided by our local community to deliver on the district’s vision of working in partnership with our families and community to develop creative, compassionate, competent, action-oriented citizens prepared to change the world.