Chewelah School District running EP&O Levy to help bridge gap between state funding and actual cost of operating schools
(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
Chewelah has seen a recent string of success with capital levies that garnered a new track and football field in 2016 and will provide upgrades to important infrastructure to school buildings after another levy passed in 2019.
But with ballots already in the mailbox for the February special election, the EP&O Levy might be the most important one of them all.
While the capital levies are generally short-term building or project improvements, the EP&O Levy will be used for everyday operations. These types of levies bridge the gap between basic K-12 education funding from the state and what it actually costs to run the school system.
The EP&O Levy on your ballot will replace the former M&O Levy that was approved in 2016. It will fund nine percent of the district’s operating budget and not add new taxes as it’s already applied currently to property taxes in the district.
So what does the levy do? It funds a lot of things we would consider important to the school system.
Extra curricular activities and athletics, nursing services, counseling services, libraries, arts and music, instructional materials, support personnel, educational field trips, building and ground maintenance, course offerings and administrative staff are all funded through the M&O levy currently in place.
“Without the levy, there is no sports,” Chewelah Athletic Director Shirley Baker said. “The levy funds transportation, coaching stipends, football helmet purchases and reconditioning, all post-season play and Snyder Field maintenance. So without the levy, we are forced to look at a pay-to-play situation and a reduction of athletic opportunities for our youth.”
The EP&O levy would continue the same tax structure and collect $1 million per year for four years at a rate of $1.75/per thousand of assessed property value.
The state currently provides about 82 percent of the Chewelah School District’s annual budget, while the federal government provides about eight percent. The district would then also get money from the EP&O levy, bonds for buildings if passed by the community and short-term capital levies.
The special election is on February 11.