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Vancouver, Washougal school levies passing

Vancouver Public Schools declared a confident victory in its school levy campaign Tuesday night, though districts elsewhere in the region saw mixed results.

Early returns showed Vancouver Public Schools’ levy passing by a wide margin of 59.27 percent, with 14,771 of 24,923 supporting the three-year supplemental levy. Levies need only a simple majority for approval. That continues a decadeslong winning streak for the school district’s funding measures.

“I am extremely grateful to this community for providing more than 55 years of continuous financial support for our students and schools,” Superintendent Steve Webb said in a statement. “This election shows the value our voters hold for the education of our children and youth.”

Two levies in the Washougal School District were also passing after first returns. The district’s three-year operations levy was passing with 52.83 percent support across Clark and Skamania counties, while a three-year technology levy was passing with 55.44 percent, according to the Secretary of State.

Woodland Public Schools voters, meanwhile, were rejecting that school district’s operations levy, with 55.46 percent voting no.

Vancouver Public Schools’ $31.3 million levy is expected to cost taxpayers between 40 and 43 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value through 2023. That will be on top of the district’s current operations levy, which costs taxpayers roughly $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed property value.

Vancouver Public Schools faces about $10 million in funding gaps in the coming years due to increasing operating expenses and changes in the state school funding model. The district made that up for the 2019-2020 school year with one-time funding, but warned that, if the levy failed, it could face additional cuts.

The additional funding will cover the cost of staff and programs not funded by the state.

The Woodland and Washougal school districts, meanwhile, were asking voters to approve replacement levies. Washougal’s operations levy will generate $24 million over the next three years, while its technology levy will raise about $2.6 million.

Like Vancouver, Washougal’s operations levy would cover some staff above and beyond what the state covers, as well as support new programs like dual-language programs. The tech levy, meanwhile, would pay to maintain student computers and tablets, as well as provide additional hardware, software and technology training throughout the district.

Woodland Public Schools’ levy would have generated $17.25 million over the next three years. District officials estimate local revenue provides about 12 percent of district operating costs.

Superintendent Michael Green said last month that if the levy fails, the district will likely have to cut staff and programs to make up for the shortfall.


Source: https://www.columbian.com

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