Local News

Omak Schools Will Seek Bond and Levy in February

Sheila Corson, Communications Officer

Omak School District


Dec 05, 2017

With a huge reduction in the levy, Omak Schools will ask for both a smaller levy and a bond in February 2018, with a net increase of only 49 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for district landowners.

The 4-year levy currently in place costs $3.41 per $1,000 of assessed value, but changes in State Law have capped that amount to $1.50 per $1,000. Whereas the school had been receiving about $2.1 million in levy funding, it will now only be able to receive about $944,000.

The district will ask for a 2-year levy at $1.50 per $1,000, which would begin collecting in 2019. Levy funds are to support activities and items not funded by what the State designates as “Basic Education.” These can include CTE projects, arts and music programs, athletics, low class size and more.

Specific items funded by levies include sending the Omak FFA team to Nationals the last two years, expanding the music program in both Choir and Band and putting new roofs on multiple buildings, Superintendent Erik Swanson said.

If the levy passes, and only if it passes, the State will then match that $944,000 with approximately $6.5 million additional dollars. If the levy does not pass, not only does the school lose the $944,000, but also will lose the $6.5 million from the State, for a total of nearly $7.5 million lost.

That means every $1.50 district landowners pay turns into about $7 for the schools.

Along with the levy, the District will ask again for a bond to construct a new middle school, at a rate of $2.40 per $1,000. That would generate about $27.8 million toward the total estimated $35 million school. The State could match between $7-12 million if the bond is passed to make up the difference.

Because of the drop in the levy, the addition of the bond would only net a difference of 49 cents per $1,000 of assessed value from what taxpayers are currently paying. The savings from the levy drop majorly offsets the cost of the bond.

“From that savings and 49 cents, we can build a middle school,” Fiscal Administrator Scott Haeberle said.

So for both proposals, a $150,000 home would have an additional $73.50 per year, or $6.12 per month.

The 1948 middle school building has problems with plumbing, wiring, asbestos and overall aging. Although maintenance and custodial teams work hard to keep the facility safe and functioning, there are many issues that will only get worse as time goes by.

The other concern is overcrowding – right now, the building is at capacity with about 350 students. Upcoming elementary classes have even larger groups, so in just a few years, the building will need to house up to 100 more students, and it currently is unable to do so.

“The students are coming, and we can’t fit them,” Swanson said.

This bond would last for 20 years, beginning collection in 2019.

               


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