(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
SAFETY AND TECHNOLOGY: Chewelah School District hopes to maintain current levy tax levels to tackle issues at Gess and JJSHS…
The Chewelah School Board approved a excess tax levy proposal for November’s ballot to maintain the level of spending with current levies set to expire. The board made the move last Thursday in a special meeting at the school district office with three board members voting on the matter.
The capital levy would raise $778,508 for the district to improve technology and safety in all school district buildings. This levy would continue the .70 cent tax per $1,000 assessed value on properties in the school district. It would also maintain the tax levels with the current levies and not raise them.
Telephone, intercom and emergency alarm systems would be updated and modernized. Currently the telephone systems are so old at both schools, the district’s technology staff has to purchase spare parts off of eBay as they are no longer commercially produced, Chewelah Superintendent Rich McFarland said. Some of the intercoms at all district buildings don’t work and need to be replaced as well to allow for better communication between classrooms. And, the school district is still using analog phones as opposed to digital phones.
The levy will also be used to upgrade safety and security systems. School security has been a focus because of media coverage of school shootings. Before the last sheriff’s election, former Stevens County Sheriff Kendall Allen had proposed having armed guards at county schools. While nothing new has been publically revealed about that, the Chewelah School District is looking at how they want to handle the entry points of their schools while still maintaining a friendly atmosphere. This levy would help the district pursue security cameras and building alarm systems.
The levy could also be used to acquire instructional technology equipment and infastructure such as computers, hardware and software.
Levy passage for the Chewelah School District recently saw success in 2016 when voters approved a $1.1 million track levy that allowed the district to install a new track and re-level Snyder Field to a more modern playing surface.
Six levy attempts to renovate the track in prior years had failed.
This levy doesn’t involve a sports facility, but the aging facilties of the Chewelah School District. Gess Elementary dates back to the early 80s while JJSHS dates back to the mid-1970s. Superintendent Rich McFarland recently formed a facilities committee to identify a multitude of needed improvements to the older buildings.
The school’s special election this year will be held on November 5, 2019 in conjunction with the state’s general election.
EDITOR’S NOTE: It was reported the next school board meeting is August 21. In reality, the next Chewelah School Board meeting in August 28 at the district office at 6:30 p.m.