Battle Ground School Board sends lower tax rate to voters

Nov. 24, 2020

The Battle Ground Public Schools Board of Directors decided unanimously on Monday to dip into the district’s reserve fund and put a replacement levy before voters that is less than the current schools levy rate. This educational programs and operations (EP & O) levy will be on the Feb. 9, 2021 special election ballot.

The levy is not a new tax, and if approved, will replace the levy that expires at the end of 2021. The local levy will allow the district to maintain educational programs and critical day-to-day school operations such as student technology, additional school staff beyond what the state provides, and building maintenance. 

It is estimated that property owners in the district will see a decrease in their local schools tax rate of 55 cents in 2022 compared to this year’s 2020 rate. The local levy rate is projected to be $1.95 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2022.

The board has diligently contributed to the district’s reserve fund over the last several years in case a need might arise. Seeing that the pandemic has had economic implications for many families in the community, the directors decided that providing relief to the Battle Ground schools community during the pandemic would be a good use of some of the reserve funds. “I don’t like to have to use the reserve fund, but COVID is one of those things that makes it necessary,” said Board President Troy McCoy.

Key points of the district’s replacement levy are:

  • Replacement levy will decrease taxes by about 39 cents per $1,000 the first year (2022) to $1.95 per $1,000.
  • The district plans to dip into its rainy day reserve fund and drop the tax rate as low as it can the first year
  • Battle Ground Public Schools has the lowest property tax rate of all K-12 districts in Clark County
  • The levy will allow the district to maintain critical student programs and activities and maintain facilities
  • The levy will be for four years, 2022–2025

After the first year, the replacement levy rate will go to a projected rate of $2.20 per $1,000, but will still be less than the current levy rate by about 14 cents per $1,000. The replacement levy is for four years and will provide about 14 percent of the district’s total operating budget. 

Battle Ground’s levy pays for basic services that are key to providing a quality education and getting students the help they need both socially and academically. The levy enables the district to keep class sizes small, supply technology that has helped students learn remotely during the health crisis, and provide for learning experiences such as electives and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Battle Ground’s levy covers 25 percent of school and district support staff, teachers, and administrators over what the state funds.

“The levy covers the needs of the district,” said Board Member Monty Anderson. “We tried to look at it in several ways for the community and give a good solid package that would be supported.” 

Levy dollars also pay for high school and upcoming middle school sports, health services, music and art classes, drug prevention education, instructional technology, security, education for students with special needs, utilities, and insurance. The levy also funds textbooks and curricula, staff positions and salaries and professional development, transportation, and building maintenance.

This levy will help Battle Ground maintain the funding for essential student programs and services,” McCoy said. “Local support is critical to providing a variety of programs that appeal to a wide range of students, to supporting special needs students, and to maintaining facilities. The state does not cover or fully cover many of these critical components of education.”

Battle Ground Public Schools has the lowest property tax rate of all K-12 districts in Clark County. While other districts rely on multiple levies to fund technology, transportation, capital projects and educational programs, Battle Ground funds all these elements out of a single levy. Across Washington, nearly all of the 295 districts rely on levy money to provide important student programs and services. 

The levy funds, which will provide approximately $24.9 million in 2022, $29.2 million in 2023,  $30.4 million in 2024, and $31.6 million in 2025 (based on the predicted increase of assessed property values), bridge the gap between the basic education funding provided by the state and the current operating budget of the district. In addition, If voters approve the levy, the Battle Ground district will be eligible to receive about $2 million in levy equalization funds from the state over the four-year period. The tax rate for the replacement levy will be lower than the current rate.

“We appreciate the support that our community has given to our students over the years,” said Superintendent Mark Ross. “We continue to need that support to provide the programs and opportunities that prepare our students for a successful future.” 

Levy information will be available on the district’s website and social media outlets, and through public presentations. In addition, questions can be emailed to communication@battlegroundps.org or called into (360) 885-5470.

Established in 1909, Battle Ground Public Schools (Battle Ground School District No. 119) is the 27th largest school district in the state of Washington. The district is home to 18 schools, serving the educational needs of 12,000 students. With 1,400 employees, Battle Ground Public Schools is the largest employer in Battle Ground.

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