Eatonville School District has two levies that are set to expire at the end of 2024. As such, two proposed replacement levies will appear on the ballot for the Feb.13 election. The Replacement Educational Programs and Operations and Capital Projects Levies are critical to maintaining programs at our local schools, according to ESD Superintendent Jay Brower. The levies fund continued investment in programs, staff and student resources that are not fully funded by state funding.
To ensure student achievement, the District has spent the past year collaborating with community members and collecting input from more than 1,500 students, staff and local citizens. These efforts were critical in crafting a new strategic plan that will steer ESD over the next 5-7 years, and drive student academic achievement and well-being.
The superintendent summarized their efforts to set levy priorities: “We solicited input from community members through surveys, and forums as well as from students, staff, and professional consultants. The Board wanted to ensure that the levies on the ballot are both conservative and fair to taxpayers, as well as financially responsible in allowing the district to maintain its facilities and educational programs.” Jay adds, “This transparent outreach effort was strongly embraced by more than 300 residents filling out the survey. We are so much stronger when our community engages in the process.”
If it passes, the proposed new four-year replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy will assess taxpayers at a rate of $2.05 per $1,000, while the six-year replacement Capital Projects Levy will come with a 45 cent per $1,000 tax assessment. Jay points out that the total annual cost to a homeowner with a $400,000 property would be approximately $1,000. Levies provide for approximately 18 percent of the district’s budget.
BENEFITS TO LOCAL SCHOOLS
According to the School District, funds generated by the replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy will provide for basic operating expenses, and also all activities that take place for students after school hours. This replacement levy is needed in order to maintain the current level of programs, some of which include:
• Music and Arts
• Athletics and extracurricular activities
• Educational materials and curriculum to increase student achievement
The Capital Projects Levy is needed in order to maintain, repair, and update various District facilities, some of which include:
• Major roof and gutter repairs
• Major repairs to aging heating/cooling systems
• Major repairs to the swimming pool and other athletic facilities
• Major technology purchases such as student/staff devices
• Improvements to technology infrastructure
• Playground replacements/improvements at all three elementary schools
• Replacement track and year around community usage field
• Ongoing safety and security upgrades
• Energy enhancements
Local resident Corey Ackerman, a former School District Board member, has two kids in the Eatonville School District. Sharing his thoughts on the upcoming levy vote, Corey says, “If the levy doesn’t pass, it would devastate many students. There are so many extra-curricular activities like athletics and arts and music that depend on this funding. Without these extra dollars, it would negatively impact many students since a lot of programs would simply go away.” A 50 percent approval from voters is needed for the levy to pass.
“Our schools are the heart of our community," says the superintendent. "These buildings, and the foundational learning that students receive on our campuses, facilitate life-long successes, community connections, and meaningful memories. I am thankful for the board's commitment to high-quality education, coupled with fiscal responsibility.”
One of the tenants of running a school district is to take care of what you’ve got. “We try to maintain our facilities and keep technology up to date for the benefit of all students,” says Jay, who adds, “we also need to address the dismal state of our track and our field area of the high school.”
MAJOR PROJECT ON HORIZON
The track has not been updated or improved in any way since 1998. Also, the multi-use field is in such poor condition that Eatonville has to travel to Bethel High School for the play-off games that they host. Eatonville is the only school of its size in the area that still plays on a grass field. Our town loses revenue by not being able to host events. “We don’t have a home field advantage,” says the superintendent. The new track as well as the new field would provide for a safer playing surface for athletes, as well as opening the facility to around the clock usage by middle school teams, Special Olympics teams, Eatonville Youth Sports Association (EYSA) and other community youth programs. The stadium will be addressed at a future time.
Also, the playgrounds at all three of the District’s Elementary Schools are in serious need of upgrades and repairs. If the levies are passed by voters the District will be upgrading all three playgrounds with new equipment, and underlayment that will also provide for ADA Accessibility. Much of the playground equipment is more than 30 years old, and not compliant with current codes and ADA accessibility.
If voters still have questions or comments regarding the Feb. 13 levy, reach out to the Eatonville School District at: Jay Brower, Superintendent; Eatonville School District; 360-641-1026 or firstname.lastname@example.org.