SCHOOLS | Voters approve South Kitsap levy

South Kitsap School District officials celebrated a successful four-year maintenance-and-operations renewal levy Tuesday night with 56.6 percent of the vote.

“The majority of the public sees us as a valuable asset to the community,” SKSD board president Keith Garton said. “It allows us to operate the school district with a somewhat stable revenue source.”

The current levy, which passed in 2009 with 57.6 percent of the vote, expires Dec. 31, 2013. That means the new collection rate begins midway through the 2013-14 school year.

Property owners will pay an estimated $3.75 per $1,000 of assessed property value during the first year of the levy. That would be $756 in 2014 for a $200,000 home, which is an increase from an estimated $636 this year. Actual levy rates will depend on whether property value projections by the Kitsap County auditor come to fruition. Those projections were used in calculating levy rate estimates.

The levy collection amounts of $22 million in 2014 and $22.5 million in ’15 are expected to reach SKSD’s estimated levy lid. Sandy Rotella, the district’s chief financial operations officer, said that is because the district will collect all of its building maintenance funding during those two years.

In October, School Board member Kathryn Simpson said that is because SKSD wanted to take advantage of lower labor costs. Rotella said district officials plan projects, including addressing failing roofs at Olalla and Sidney Glen elementary schools and South Kitsap High School, along with various jobs ranging from fire alarms to flooring.

Without building maintenance in 2016 and ’17, collection amounts of $22.65 million each year are less than the estimated lids.

Estimated levy rates in 2015, 2016 and 2017 are $3.91, $3.90 and $3.86 per thousand.

Rates for other Kitsap County school districts in 2012 ranged from $3.20 per $1,000 assessed (Bainbridge Island) to $4.61 (Central Kitsap). All districts except SKSD have bond and/or capital project levies in addition to maintenance-and-operations levies.

The district now has passed its last four levies after just nine out of 25 levies won between 1973 and 2000.

“I guess I would have to attribute that to we have made such improvements in South Kitsap schools,” Garton said. “We have been able to prove to voters that we are good stewards of their dollars. Achievement for all students is improving. I think they see value in that.”

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