News

WR board announces levy plans

Vote set for April 25, will be by mail only

By Brenda Sexton

The Courier-Herald

The White River School District will put its maintenance and operation levy before voters again April 25, but there will be some changes the second time around.

At its regular meeting March 8, the White River School Board announced it will put the maintenance and operation levy back on the ballot, but as a mail-in only election. Also, the ballot will not include a bond proposal for stadium improvements and technology upgrades.

The levy, which failed in February after receiving a 53.19 percent yes vote (a 60 percent yes vote is needed for passage), is too important not to run again, board members said. The four-year M and O levy, which makes up approximately 17 percent of the district's budget, helps keep class sizes small and plays for secretaries, classroom assistants and custodians, special education, instructional materials, transportation, counseling and nursing services, athletic and music programs and more. It would replace the current levy which expires soon.

“We have to face it, levy money is imbedded in our budgets, not just ours but every district,” board President Susan McGuire said.

The move to a mail-in only ballot was also an easy decision for the board. Of the 4,117 residents who voted in the February election, only about 300 went to the polls while the rest voted by mail. There are other reasons to go with a mail-in format as well.

According to Superintendent Tom Lockyer, the mail-in format will give levy leaders an early glimpse of which precincts have not sent in ballots so they can follow up in those areas with phone calling or doorbelling. They won't know how they voted, Lockyer said, but they will know if they voted.

Voting by mail is also a less expensive option for the district, although those figures were not available.

To help voters, levy leaders are planning to get Pierce County to set up a ballot-collection kiosk at the Buckley library where residents can drop off ballots in lieu of mailing them.

The levy will again cover four years. If approved, the district would collect $7 million the first year and gradually grow to $8.2 million in the final year, 2010. The tax rate, however, was expected to remain the same, $3.49 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or perhaps decrease as more people moved into the area to share the tax burden and home values increased.

The board will not pursue a bond for stadium upgrades again.

“The board was listening to folks who said they wanted a stadium,” Lockyer said. “We'd consider it and now we have the answer.”

In February, the stadium received less than 40 percent approval.

In other business, the board:

€ reminded parents there is early dismissal March 30 and spring break will be April 10-14.

€ announced its next regular meeting is 6 p.m. April 19 in the board/conference room.

€ played math games with Wilkeson Elementary students who shared information and skills from their family math night.

€ listened to a parent who was looking for help with her middle school-aged son who has attention deficit disorder.

€ approved the surplus and future sale of a 1981 small bus.

€ accepted resignations from Foothills Elementary custodian Kimberly Betts and White River High teacher Jaime Jones.

€ terminated WRHS teacher Rebekah Todd.

€ hired long-term substitute paraeducator Sheri Flynn at Elk Ridge Elementary, educational assist Alicia Garvin at Glacier Middle School, instructional paraeducator Karen Pitman at Wilkeson Elementary and educational assistant Lealynn Taylor at Mountain Meadow Elementary.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com.

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