Clallam commissioners back school measures in Sequim, Forks

Jim Stoffer

One week after backing the Port Angeles school levy, Clallam County commissioners on Jan. 17 established positions in support of similar measures in Sequim and Forks. 

Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve resolutions in support of the Sequim School District’s proposed replacement educational programs and operation levy and capital projects levy.

They also voted unanimously to pass a resolution backing the Quillayute Valley School District’s proposed replacement maintenance and operation levy.

School levies in Port Angeles, Sequim and Forks will appear on Feb. 14 special election ballots.

“Having a strong education system is a building block for a strong community,” said Robert Streett, Citizens for Sequim Schools treasurer, in the first public comment portion of last Tuesday’s business meeting.

“Passing these two levies for Sequim is critical for building a better future for Clallam County and for Sequim.”

Sequim’s four-year educational programs and operations renewal levy would be used to maintain current levels of education and services. It would continue to cover 22 percent of the district operating budget and would replace a levy that is set to expire in December.

“It’s pretty vital that we have this,” said Jim Stoffer, Sequim School Board member and legislative representative.

“It’s a renewal. We do this every four years. It’s real similar to the one that Port Angeles and Quillayute Valley are doing.”

Sequim’s educational programs and operation levy would collect a fixed amount of $6.32 million in 2018, $6.52 million in 2019, $6.72 million in 2020 and $6.92 million in 2021.

The estimated levy rate per $1,000 of assessed valuation would range from $1.52 to $1.57 over the term. The existing levy rate is $1.60 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, according to the resolution.

Sequim School District voters also will consider a three-year capital projects levy that would be used to demolish the 1949 community school that was deemed unsafe for students in 2012.

“That will free up some real estate to eventually put in an elementary (school) in that space, which is in the downtown area,” Stoffer said.

The demolition would qualify the district for $4.3 million in state matching funds for new school construction, according to a district flier.

In addition, the capital projects levy would be used to remodel the district’s World War II-era central kitchen, which feeds about 2,800 students during the school year each day, Stoffer said.

The total levy amount would be $681,000 in 2018, $1.55 million in 2019 and $3.52 million in 2020.

The estimated rate for the capital projects levy would be 16 cents per $1,000 in 2018, 36 cents per $1,000 in 2019 and 81 cents per $1,000 in 2020.

While the levy was programmed for three years, Stoffer said the work might be completed in two years.

“Then we won’t have to extend out that levy,” Stoffer said. “It could be just two years vs. three.”

Forks-area voters will consider renewing the district’s current maintenance and operation levy, which is set to expire at the end of this year.

The Forks M&O levy pays for maintenance, repairs and educational programs not funded by the state.

The replacement levy would continue to fund athletics, drama, art, music, field trips, personnel, teacher training, technology and classroom materials such as textbooks and supplies, according to a flier from the district.

The Forks M&O levy covers about 13 percent of the district’s operating budget.

The new levy would represent an increase in annual collection from $628,000 to $714,304 for the maximum $3.19 million state match.

If approved, the estimated levy rate would be $1.48 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2018 and 2019, $1.46 in 2020 and $1.44 in 2021.

Rob Ollikainen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@ peninsuladailynews.com.

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