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School district offers up 2001 levy proposal

"After eliminating bus transportation, sports, ROTC and volunteer training - among other things - the South Kitsap School District would still have to find a way to shave $2 million more from the 2001 budget if voters decide against the next levy.Superintendent Bill Lahmann and school district staff reiterated at a levy work study meeting Nov. 13 the cuts are an unpleasant necessity to run a balanced budget. These are not intended in any way to be threats, Lahmann said. This is reality.On the other hand, if voters approve a four-year levy proposal Feb. 6, the school district would have the funds to restore programs and activities lost this year as well as add new programs, teachers, administrators and technology.The superintendent's office has recommended to the South Kitsap School Board a four-year plan that levies a tax of $3.44 per $1,000 of assessed value the first year, $3.42 the second, $3.40 the third year and $3.38 the final year.The Board will vote on the proposal Nov. 20.The median assessed property value in the city of Port Orchard is about $91,000, according to the Kitsap County Assessor's Office.For a Port Orchard homeowner with property valued at $91,000, the levy rate would work out to an additional $313.04 the first year, $311.22 the second, $309.40 the third and $307.58 for the final year.Between the levy and state equalization funds, the total amount of money raised would be about $13.4 million the first year, $13.7 million the second year, $14.1 million the third year and a little under $14.5 million the fourth year, for a grand, four-year total of about $55.6 million.The money would be divided among schools, curriculum and instruction, technology, transportation, facilities, community relations and general support departments.While roughly 87 percent of the money raised by the levy would maintain current standards in South Kitsap School District schools and restore programs eliminated during prior budget cuts, 13 percent could go to adding new programs, hiring additional teachers and administrators and boosting the school district's technology to a competitive level.Jim Civilla, a member of the Budget Advisory Committee and the volunteer group Citizens for Quality Education, called the levy proposal a blueprint from which the Budget Advisory Committee and Superintendent's office could work.Civilla said the advisory committee proposed additions to give students access to the necessary tools to boost their testing scores and graduate with the ability to compete for jobs. Why should we be sub-standard? he said.About $2.5 million would hire six full-time equivalent teachers, three full-time equivalent classified staff positions, a part-time staffer at each junior high and an assistant elementary school principal. In the technology department, $3.9 million would add two full-time equivalent technicians and a full-time equivalent position for data center support staff.The school district could also purchase 800 new computers, train staff to use them and pay for email, hardware and software upgrades. An integrated phone system would put telephones in each teacher's classroom to facilitate communication and provide a safety feature in case teachers need to call for emergency assistance from their rooms.Additions to the district office include a full-time office assistant, business support staff and a personnel administrator. The superintendent's office also budgeted for $30,000 in ergonomic furniture upgrades and $34,000 for an optical disk system for records maintenance. Total additions to the district office were about $710,370.The school district's Budget Advisory Committee has recommended a continuation of student participation fees, even if the levy passes.The 2001-2002 fee for participation in athletics would drop from the current $200 to $75. The $75 fee to participate in other activities would drop to $25. "

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