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School Eyes Levy For February

Money need because of state cuts

Last week Gov. Christine Gregoire released a state supplemental budget proposal for 2010 that cuts $78.5 million in K-12 education funding.

This week the White Salmon Valley School District's board of directors planned to approve a resolution calling for a February election on a two-year maintenance-and-operations levy proposal that, among other things, replaces the state funding the district anticipates it will lose when the Legislature finally gets down to writing a new budget.

The five-member board was scheduled to hold its December business meeting last night, Dec. 16, at which time it was expected to schedule an M&O levy election on Feb. 9, 2010, in the amount of $2.395 million per year. The levy would be collected during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years, at a rate of $1.94 per $1,000 of assessed valuation per year.

"This is for the kids," Vicki Prendergast, principal of Hulan L. Whitson Elementary School, said of the alternative the board settled on after discussion, and added, "That's what it boils down to: Doing what's best for the kids."

The district's current two-year M&0 levy, which is raising $2.055 million in local support for school programs, expires at the end of 2010.

During last Wednesday's board workshop on the M&O levy, Superintendent Jerry Lewis and business manager Terry Anderson presented directors with four two-year levy options, ranging from a levy that offsets state funding cutbacks--$88,000 in Levy Equalization Assistance, $148,000 in I-728/Class-size Reduction money--while maintaining the status quo to one that also includes funding for full-time science and music teachers at Wayne M. Henkle Middle School.

Lewis explained to directors Kris Kreps, Tom Stevenson, Jeff Cooper and Paul Mosbrucker that each building principal and department head put together a funding request based on priorities and needs. The administration then worked the numbers into four levy alternatives, which ranged from $1.66 per $1,000 ($2.066 million) to $1.93 per $1,000 ($2.379 million).

Through discussion of the four alternatives, board members warmed toward a modified version of the fourth option that would assess $1.94 per $1,000 to raise $2.395 million per year for two years.

The levy would provide for the following:

**$88,000 to offset the loss of state Levy Equalization Assistance.

**$148,000 to counteract a reduction in K-12 funding and save 2.5 full-time equivalent teaching positions.

**$87,000 for a full-time literacy coach at Hulan L. Whitson Elementary School.

**$70,000 for a full-time science teacher at Henkle.

**$34,000 for a full-time music teacher at Henkle.

**$23,756 for an intervention specialist at Whitson.

**$10,000 for an afterschool tutor at Whitson.

**$28,000 for a counselor at Henkle.

**$10,000 for online tuition assistance at Columbia High School.

**$15,000 for additional curriculum.

**$11,400 for equipment purchase (tractor attachment) by the Buildings and Grounds Department.

**$16,284 to refinish the floor in Gerald Miller Gym.

**$6,683 for equipment purchase (steamer) by the Food Program.

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