SEQUIM — Ballots are either in the hands of or on their way to voters in the Sequim School District for two school levy proposals — one to bolster basic education needs throughout the district and another for a variety of capital projects at each campus.
Voters will have until Feb. 9 to send in their ballots as the district seeks supplemental funding for basic education services as well as funds for technology and infrastructure projects.
The levy proposals include a four-year, $29.7 million Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy that replaces Sequim’s current local tax and pays for core learning functions not supported in state’s basic education formula, as well as a four-year, $15 million capital projects levy to address a number of building issues.
Taxpayers in the district would pay between $1.87 ($1.24 for the EP&O levy, $0.63 for the capital projects levy) and $1.89 ($1.26/$0.63) per $1,000 of assessed value starting in 2022, district officials said.
Along with multiple radio interviews to spread the word about the levy proposals, Sequim schools interim Superintendent Jane Pryne was busy last week meeting with a number of board and groups, including Clallam County commissioners, board of directors with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, Olympic Medical Center’s board of commissioners, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Council and Sequim Sunrise Rotary.
Getting the word out
“I do feel like the word has gotten out about the levies,” she said, noting that community members have also stepped up to help promote the proposals.
One example she noted was James Castell, sales and marketing director for Castell Insurance, who shot video to detail needs for the capital project levy (https://tinyurl.com/PDN-SequimLevies).
“We’re getting the word out as much as possible,” Pryne said.
The levy ballots were getting into hands of voters as Sequim students were headed back into classrooms this week, starting with elementary school-aged youths on Tuesday and middle- and high school-aged students headed back in February and early March.
“All of those costs are continuing, (and) buildings still need to be maintained,” Pryne said. “Students are still being educated even if they’re not sitting in their seats in classrooms.”
Voters who need to register, update an address or check on status of a ballot can do so at the Online Voter Registration Portal at votewa.gov or by going to clallam.net/elections. The last day to register is Monday, Feb. 1.
Individuals can register to vote or update one’s registration in person at the Clallam County Auditor’s Office, 223 E. Fourth St., Suite 1, Port Angeles, between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Ballots must be postmarked or placed in a ballot drop box by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Feb. 9, to be counted. See drop box locations at locations can be viewed at votewa.gov. U.S. Postal Service officials recommend those using standard mail should have their ballots sent at least a week prior to election day.
Levy plan details
The EP&O renewal levy, which accounts for about 17 percent of the district’s annual budget, pays for salaries for additional teachers, paraeducators, counselors and nurses, the Highly Capable program, extra-curricular activities (sports, music, drama, field trips, etc.) and other staffing costs.
The capital projects levy would pay for a number of projects across the district, including a video surveillance system, network system, voice system districtwide; a replacement of roof, heating system, network upgrades and sewer connection at Greywolf Elementary; installation of a fire alarm system at Helen Haller Elementary; a replacement of roof, gym floor repair, cafeteria floor replacement at Sequim Middle School; a replacement of heating system, science and career/technical education classroom upgrade and modernization, gym floor replacement and roof replacement among other things at Sequim High School; and replacement of the track and restrooms at the Sequim athletic stadium.
School district officials tried four times to pass a bond issue between 2014-2016, that would have funded a new elementary school. Each failed, with the third bond measure —in February 2016 — fell short by less than one half of a percent of the 60 percent super-majority required.
In 2017, voters approved a three-year, $5.75 million capital project levy that paid for demolition of unused portions of the Sequim Community School and rebuilt the central kitchen facility on the same property.
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].