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SK school levy winning handily

The South Kitsap School District’s four-year maintenance-and-operations levy appeared headed for victory on Tuesday night as early returns from the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office showed the measure winning by a margin of 56.71 to 43.29 percent.

Prior to 2007, that wouldn’t have been enough. But with the relaxing of the supermajority standard for school levies in Washington state, which required 60 percent for passage, the measure looks to have made it with room to spare.

"We're just extremely pleased tonight," said SKSD Superintendent Dave LaRose. "It's taken a collaborative effort that's engaged all of our stakeholders to get us to this point."

Levy funding accounts for around 16 percent of the district's annual budget. This year’s levy is expected to generate $70 million in property tax revenue from 2010 through 2013.

LaRose attributed the success to better communication.

"We made a commitment to being completely transparent," he said. "We've been very aggressive about telling everyone just exactly what's in the levy with the expectation they'd do the right thing with it."

In addition to being the first levy run since the supermajority requirement was dropped, this is also the first levy since Kitsap County went to all-mail elections. Voters began receiving their ballots in the mail on Jan. 14 and all ballots will be counted provided they are postmarked Feb. 3 or earlier.

The school district authorized the levy on Oct. 1, expecting to collect $16.39 million in 2010, $16.88 million in 2011, $17.75 million in 2012 and $19 million in 2013.

The estimated levy rate would be $2.27 per $1,000 of assessed property value for 2010 and 2011, and $2.28 per $1,000 for the last two years of the levy. The current levy rate is $2.01 per $1,000.

Levy funds are used to cover operation and maintenance costs not covered by the state's basic education funding. Those cost include some teaching positions, a third of the district's transportation costs, technology services, curriculum updates and miscellaneous expenses.

"We appreciate the response tonight," LaRose said, "and we're renewing our commitment to use these resources where they'll matter most in terms of a positive outcome for South Kitsap students."

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