Battle Ground school board approves 2019-20 budget with capital projects

District plans to phase in middle school sports

Battle Ground Public Schools Board of Directors approved the 2019-20 budget for the district at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 12 after a public hearing on the topic. Directors approved general fund budget expenditures of $188,498,044 and a capital projects fund of $11,655,408.

The budget includes $119.5 million in state appropriations for operation of basic education and $23.4 million in voter-approved local levy funds at a property tax rate of $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed value, among other revenues. The levy will let Battle Ground cover an otherwise projected deficit, complete capital projects, and gradually phase in middle school sports.

“The funding changes of the past few years have been difficult for our district,” said Superintendent Mark Ross. “The additional levy capacity approved by the legislature will allow Battle Ground to maintain the programs that serve our students, make some much-needed safety and infrastructure improvements at some of our schools, and add middle school sports—a beneficial program that our community has been asking us about for years. These changes will round out the educational experience that we can provide our students and families and continue to build a district that strengthens our community and makes it a desirable place to raise a family.”

2018-19 marked the beginning of significant changes to how K-12 education is funded in Washington state. To meet the State Supreme Court’s order to fully fund basic education in Washington, the state legislature capped the amount of local levy dollars that districts can collect through property taxes and increased the amount that the state collects through property taxes to be redistributed to all schools.

Battle Ground district voters approved a four-year levy in 2017 to cover the calendar years 2018-2021. In 2019, the legislature capped local school district levies at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value, and then increased the cap to $2.50 beginning in 2020.

For the calendar year 2019, the voter-approved levy amount would have been $33.26 million at a projected tax rate of $3.66 before the cap. With the cap, the district is receiving less: $15.8 million. Battle Ground Public Schools has the lowest 2019 tax rate of the school districts within Clark County at $2.11 per $1,000 of assessed value ($1.50 levy and $0.61 bond). The range of school tax rates for 2019 in Clark County varies from Woodland at $3.13 per $1,000 to Camas at $5.03 per $1,000.

2019 School Property Tax Rates within Clark County
School DistrictBondM&O LevyCapital LevyTotal Local Bond & Levy*
Battle Ground Public Schools$0.58**$2.50$3.08
Vancouver Public Schools$1.49$1.52$0.32$3.34
Ridgefield Public Schools$1.85$1.50$3.35
Hockinson School District$1.90$1.50$3.40
Evergreen Public Schools$1.74$1.64$0.40$3.80
Woodland Public Schools$1.53$2.37$3.90
Washougal School District$1.86$1.98$0.25$4.10
La Center School District$2.91$1.51$4.41
Camas School District$3.13$2.15$0.28$5.56
Green Mountain K-8 School District***$1.63$1.23$2.86
*These rates do not include the State Schools property tax rate ($2.85 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2019-20).
**BGPS current bond expires December 2023.
***Green Mountain serves K-8 students only. 9-12 typically attend BGHS.

For the calendar year 2020, the voter-approved levy amount would have been $34.93 million at a projected tax rate of $3.66 before the cap. With the cap, the district will collect less, $29.5 million in 2020. The combined levy and bond tax rate for Battle Ground is projected to be $3.09 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2020.

History of Battle Ground Public Schools Property Tax Rates
 2014201520162017201820192020
Local BGPS levy rate$4.13$3.82$3.65$3.31$3.45$1.50$2.50
Local BGPS bond rate*$0.85*$0.86*$0.81*$0.73*$0.67*$0.61*$0.58*
Total local BGPS levy & bond rate$4.98$4.68$4.46$4.03$4.12$2.11$3.08
State schools levy rate$2.35$2.24$2.07$1.98$2.89$2.51$2.89**
Combined state and local levy rate$7.33$6.92$6.53$6.01$7.01$4.61$5.98**
Rates are per $1,000 of assessed value. Taxes are collected on a calendar year.
*BGPS bond expires December 2023.
**2020 tax rates are estimates.

The additional levy capacity will let Battle Ground Public Schools cover a projected annual average deficit of $4 million beginning in 2020-21. The district made cuts last spring in response to a significant drop in enrollment to balance the budget for the 2019-20 school year; however, expenses continue to rise faster than revenues.

The district continues to incur rising expenses as a result of the higher cost of new, state-pooled benefits, as well as from increasing staff salaries and the need to provide services such as special education that are not fully covered by the state.

The levy funds will provide capacity to cover increasing expenses in future years and provide funding for much-needed capital projects and a plan to gradually phase in middle school sports using existing facilities in the district.

The district expects to spend $3.16 million in levy on capital projects in 2019-20, including security fencing for select schools, a gym/cafeteria conversion and roof recoat at Pleasant Valley, upgrades to district WIFI technology, and an ALE campus parking lot expansion.

More information and the district’s budget presentation is on the Budget web page.

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