For more than 140 years, Carbonado residents have supported their local school. Now, they’ve being asked to continue that long-standing tradition.
The Carbonado Historical School District is asking voters to pass an Education Programs and Operations levy, which would replace a previously levy that’s set to expire. Voters should have received ballots early this week – Pierce County planned to put them in the mail Friday – for the Feb. 11 election.
Completed ballots must be delivered to a drop box, postmarked or hand-delivered to the Pierce County Elections Department by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Carbonado is hardly alone in making its request. Neighboring districts White River and Enumclaw also have items on the Feb. 11 ballot.
Jessie Sprouse is the first-year superintendent/principal of the school that has served Carbonado since 1878. With long ties to the school, she emphasizes how the education system is tied to the health of the entire community – when one benefits, so does the other, she says.
She also points to the same problems that plague school districts of all sizes throughout the Evergreen State: simply, the calculations for funding “basic education” do not equal what truly gets spent on students.
In a letter sent to the community, Sprouse stated that levy money helps fund a teacher for every classroom (where state funding falls short); she added that levy money is used to provide more classified staff that the state pays for and, additionally, that state money pays for only half of the district’s special services (a physical therapist, school psychologist, speech-language pathologist and more).
The small school system – with about 200 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade – pays for a half-time music teacher and pays the salaries of coaches (there are no user fees collected for school sports).
When it comes to dollars and cents, the Carbonado district was impacted – like every district in the state – by action taken in Olympia by the state Legislature.
District property owners paid a levy rate of $5.61 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2017 and 2018, she said, and had given approval for even more. Legislative action, however, decreased the rate to $2.50 for 2019 and 2020. The measure on the Feb. 11 ballot is billed as a “replacement levy,” as it would keep the rate at $2.50 for another four years.
The math works out to $750 annually for the owner of property (home and land) assessed at $300,000.
For now, Sprouse is encouraging anyone with questions to call the school (360-829-0121) or simply walk in. She is anxious to dispel any incorrect information that might be floating about the community. For example, she has been asked if she receives a bonus if the levy passes (she does not) and why district residents pay for levies in both Carbonado and White River (they do not). Carbonado residents are assessed for the bond measure that built White River High, but levy collections are limited to the boundaries of the individual districts.