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School district mulls two levy options

Terri Patton likes to refer to South Kitsap School District’s replacement levy planning as a “miniseries.”

The chapters in the plan for SKSD’s assistant superintendent for business and support extend back a year.

Local residents won’t determine if the plan is successful until the Feb. 3 election, but there still is one decision remaining before the script is finalized.

Board members decided Wednesday that they will come to a resolution on a plan at the next meeting.

The session is open for public comment beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday before the vote at the district office.

The board already has decided it wants a four-year levy to run through 2013.

SKSD’s current levy runs through Dec. 31, 2009.

Patton has presented the board with two proposals. The first features an 8 percent inflator on salaries and benefits in 2010, followed by 6 percent the next three years.

It sets non-employee related expenses at 5 percent, replaces 2,180 computers, establishes a “safety net” at $300,000 per year, and includes health-room coverage.

It also provides $80,000 to upgrade to the Follet Library System.

Patton said the health room provision is significant because nurses aren’t full-time district employees, which means they need to fund clerical staff to man the room at times.

That plan takes taxpayers’ estimated contribution to $2.27 per $1,000 assessed valuation in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, followed by a one-cent increase the following two years.

Board member Naomi Polen expressed concern about the 3 cent increase this year.

“I’m concerned about the higher amount,” she said. “I think it will impact people a lot.”

Patton said it’s necessary because unforeseen issues when the last proposal was drafted in 2004 have made the levy unaffordable.

Factors include increased fuel prices and employer-paid state pensions, inflation rising higher than 3 percent, property values in Kitsap County exceeding the state average and the recent credit crisis.

The new rate would be higher than any local district for a maintenance and operations levy — Bremerton is at $2.22 this year.

Patton’s second proposal actually came in at $2.20, but it doesn’t seem to have as much support among the board.

It calls for a 6 percent inflator on all salaries and benefits, while non-employee related expenses are set at 3 percent.

The plan would replace 1,840 computers, put the safety net at $150,000 in 2010 and 2012, and provide $60,000 for library upgrades.

Both plans budget for east wing of the roof at Orchard Heights Elementary to be replaced. The west wing was replaced in 2005, but the east wing hasn’t been re-roofed since 1975.

District facilities director Tom O’Brien estimates the project would cost $1.4 million because the roof is flat and requires asbestos abatement.

The roof at Burley Glenwood Elementary also would be replaced, but O’Brien said it would be significantly less expensive because it doesn’t require as much work.

It’s one example of how the district hopes to show the public how it’s spending taxpayers’ money.

“We’ve got to show them we’re changing things,” board vice president Keith Garton said. “We’re not just throwing money at things.”

Superintendent Dave LaRose urged the board to be specific with details when they present the levy to voters.

Even though taxpayers’ contribution could increase by as much as 30 cents per year with the replacement levy, Patton noted that the district has tightened its own budget this year.

Shew said each school is required to cut its budget 10 percent this school year from the previous one.

Under Patton’s first proposal, the owner of a $250,000 house would pay a maximum of $75 per year.

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