The Board of Directors of the Rochester School District approved Resolution No. 15-16 authorizing a 4-Year Replacement Levy for Educational Programs & Operations. Voters are being asked to consider the measure on February 9.
Levy funding is temporary. In 2012, the citizens of Rochester passed a ballot measure providing levy funding for schools through 2016. To sustain school funding, the replacement levy is being placed on the February ballot. The levy rate would be approximately $3.89 per $1,000 assessed value. Rates see some fluctuation with changes in property values.
If the proposition is approved by voters in February it would authorize the District to levy the following taxes on all taxable property within the District.
Levies bridge the gap between what the state pays for and what it actually costs to operate schools, according to Rochester Superintendent Kim Fry. She says levy funding provides more than 15% of the district’s operating budget. “Levy dollars help pay the actual costs of the programs and services valued by the community. They have helped us reach a 90.8% graduation rate, far exceeding the state and national averages of 79.9% and 81% respectively,” said Fry. She added 100% of local levy funds stay in Rochester schools.
Levy funds are used to pay for all or a portion of the following: textbooks, equipment and supplies; staffing to lower class sizes; technology; teacher training; gifted education; busing; athletics and activities; K-8 art and music; support for struggling learners; and librarians, counselors and custodians.
School Board Chair Glen Morgan shared that if the Rochester replacement levy passes in February, the state will provide an additional $1 million in Levy Equalization Funds to the district. “These are provided to communities like Rochester with a low tax base due to a lack of industry,” said Morgan. “But Equalization Funds are only provided to districts if their community passes a levy.”
Rochester School District provides rigorous academic programs to more 2200 students, preparing them for lifelong learning, rewarding careers and productive citizenship. The district’s students and staff have received numerous state awards, including being named a 2013 and 2014 Washington State “School of Distinction.”
Related to the replacement levy, some senior, veteran and disabled homeowners may be eligible for a full or partial exemption, if they have an income of $40,000 or less. For details, please contact the Thurston County Assessor’s Office at 360.786.5410 or www.co.thurston.wa.us/assessor/relief-exemptions.html.