LONGVIEW — If Woodland School District’s pared-down levy fails to pass a second time, the district will be forced to cut 50 positions and $3 million from its 2020-21 budget, and more cuts may be necessary the following year, school officials said this week.
“Woodland has a long tradition of supporting and valuing the education we provide our community’s children, and we hope the voters will continue that tradition this April,” Superintendent Michael Green said in a press release.
Ahead of the April 28 special election, Woodland School District Board of Directors is guaranteeing the maximum levy tax rates for the April replacement levy will not exceed the estimated rates, which are lower than those the district sought approval for in February.
The staff positions at risk include two or more teachers in grades 4-12, one teacher at Yale School, 12 paraprofessionals, two to three classified support positions at Yale School, all elementary school counselors, nine custodians, two maintenance and grounds positions, two building-level secretaries, one school psychologist, the physical therapist, three English language learner positions, the assistant superintendent, the truancy specialist, the behavior support specialist, two-and-a-half administrative support positions, 20 percent of coaching positions, the vocal music accompanist and the ALE secretary.
Further, high school athletics would be varsity and junior varsity only, athletic participation fees would be doubled, transportation would not be provided by the school and all equipment and officials would have to be paid through student fundraising, according to a press release.
In other cuts to the classroom, there would be no new curriculum, the technology budget would be cut by 33 percent and there would be less professional development offered, the press release said, along with cutting or reducing arts, music, athletics, clubs, the career center at the high school, summer school, student support programs, specialized and advanced placement classes, special education programs and the Family Community Resource Center.
“There is no cut on the list that won’t substantially hurt student education in our community,” Green said in a press release.
The maintenance and operations levies pay for programs and staff positions, as well as mandates that the state government does not fully fund. Woodland is asking voters to approve a levy with a property tax rate identical to the one now in place, which expires at the end of the year.
That’s a rate of $2.37 per $1,000 of property value. The measure is for three years and would collect $5.4 million in 2021, $5.8 million in 2022 and $6.1 million in 2023. (Woodland’s current three-year levy was temporarily reduced to $1.50 per $1,000 under a legislative cap that later was increased to $2.50.)
The owner of a $250,000 home in Woodland would pay $592.50 per year under the levy.
Ballots must be postmarked by April 28 or returned to one of the ballot drop boxes by 8 p.m. that day. Voters who don’t receive a ballot by April 17 should contact the Elections Office to get a replacement.
Completed ballots can be mailed, dropped off at the Cowlitz County Elections Office at 207 North Fourth Ave. in Kelso or put in ballot drop boxes.