$12 million in four-year levy

— Voters in this School District recently passed a $69.3 million bond to build a new high school, remodel the elementary schools, and now the community is now being asked to approve a four-year replacement maintenance, operations and educations programs levy on Feb. 13.

And, according to local citizens groups, the levy passage is looking favorable.

“”We are very excited about the upcoming levy,” chairman of the Prosser Schools Citizens Committee Scott Hunt said.

The district is seeking a levy of $12,460,022 spread out over the course of four years, Assistant superintendent Craig Reynolds said.

“The state already doesn’t pay for extracurricular activities, such as athletics,” Reynolds said.

The proposed levy, if passed, will also help the district of nearly 3,000 students with teaching and instruction support, student transportation, special education programs, academic intervention and school safety and security, also not covered by state funding, but which must come from local taxing, Reynolds said.

“We have worked hard to get the message out about what this levy pays for and how critical it is that we get the levy passed.” Hunt said

According to Hunt, reductions in state funding by the legislature have put a lid on the amount of money local school districts can collect in levy money.

In the Prosser School District that reduction cuts the district’s levy budget by 50 percent. That is about $2 million from the district’s budget.

“It’s more important now than ever that we pass this levy,” Hunt said.

In July 2017, the state legislature decided to increase the amount of money it would provide to schools but reduce the amount of local taxes school districts can collect, Reynolds said.

That change dropped the district’s current $3.03 per $1,000 assessed property value in 2018, to a maximum of $1.50 per $1,000 assessed value (2019-2020), Reynolds said.

Hunt said the levy funds are used to make up the difference between what the state pays for certain school programs and what it really costs the district to provide the services to students.

Levy funds are used for areas such as special education, transportation, after school enrichment programs such as tutoring, sports and extracurricular activities such as band, drama and the arts.

“We have heard very positive feedback from the community in support of the levy,” Hunt said.

Ballots were mailed out to voters on Friday and must be returned to the Benton County Courthouse no later than Feb. 13.


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