Walla Walla Public Schools Board to submit levies for February election
The Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday night to submit a renewal Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) Levy and a Capital Levy to improve outdoor athletic and activity facilities to voters for the Feb. 13, 2024 special election.
The EP&O Levy, often referred to as the “Learning Levy,” is not a new tax. It replaces the expiring levy approved in 2020 and requires voter reauthorization every four years. Its renewal maintains programs and offerings not funded by the state and has been approved consecutively at the ballot box for over half a century in Walla Walla. EP&O Levy funds make up 15% of the Walla Walla Public Schools budget and provide for the continuation of honors classes, music, art, drama, school safety, technology, nursing, athletic programming, financial literacy, driver education, counseling and support staff. Altogether, the levy funds over 110 teaching and support staff positions across the district. .
Replacing the same rate approved by voters in 2020, the EP&O “Learning Levy” remains capped at $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. It will run from 2025 to 2028.
The short-term Capital Levy will be used to update outdoor spaces for athletics, activities, JROTC, physical education, marching band and other outside programming, including community use. These improvements were identified by the independent Outdoor Athletic and Activity Advisory Committee and address the priority projects most in need of upgrades to maximize access, safety and participation. In order to minimize impact to taxpayers, the district has identified grants and outside funding sources to help reduce costs. As a result, the Capital Levy rate is estimated to be no more than 38 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value and will automatically expire after six years. The Outdoor Capital Levy would cost about $3 per month for every $100,000 of assessed value. For a home assessed at $300,000 the annual cost would be $114 per year or $9.50 per month through the six-year Capital Levy time frame.
Ballots for these levies will mail out to voters in late January. Both levy propositions require a simple majority to pass, 50% plus one vote.
THE EP&O “LEARNING LEVY” WILL CONTINUE TO FUND:
• Arts Programs
• Band, Choir and Orchestra Programs
• Honors & Advanced Placement Classes
• School Safety
• Foreign Language Programs
• School Nursing/Health Services
• Explorers and Highly Capable Program
• Athletics, Activities and Clubs
• Driver Education
• Counseling and Intervention Specialists
• Facilities Maintenance & Custodial Staff
• Classroom Technology and Technology Staff
• Physical Education
• Educational Assistants/Para-Educators
• Library and Media Services
• Staff Professional Development and Training
• Curriculum and Classroom/Lab Supplies and Materials
NOTE: The EP&O “Learning Levy” funds 111 full-time district employees
THE PROPOSED 38 CENT SHORT-TERM CAPITAL LEVY WILL:
• Replace the 60-year-old original tennis courts at Wa-Hi
• Install an all-weather track at Pioneer MS for athlete, school and community use
• Repair the 43-year-old Garrison tennis courts (Chubb Courts) and resurface the 20-year-old track
• Consistent with all league schools, install high-quality artificial turf playing surfaces and field lighting (low spill/low glare) in order to maximize utilization, participation and post-season play at both the Klicker and Hayner Park fields at Wa-Hi
• Install outdoor lighting (low spill/low glare) in order to minimize instructional loss and maximize family participation for baseball and softball players
• Install elevated bleachers with ADA access at the Klicker Track and Field site for soccer, football and track and field spectators
• Provide adequate access to restrooms and changing rooms for high school athletes
• Construct a JROTC "Raider Obstacle Course" for student, first responder and community use