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Voters can weigh in on school levy this week
Voters get their first opportunity to weigh in on the Bremerton schools operating and maintenance levy this week.
While the levy has an official date of Feb. 7, with all-mail balloting in Kitsap County, that date on the calendar is merely the last day to postmark a ballot. Ballots are set to be mailed to most voters Wednesday, Jan. 18 after military and overseas voters ballots were sent out Friday.
BSD is asking voters for a four-year levy that would collect at most $39.3 million.
The renewal levy rate is estimated at $2.75 per $1,000 assessed property value compared to $3.10 for the current four-year levy that expires next year.
The levy money makes up 16 percent of the districts budget and accounts for another eight percent when levy matching funds from the state are taken into consideration.
District officials have been working in recent weeks to help voters understand the difference between a levy and a bond, which was passed by Bremerton voters in May.
By law, bond money must go toward capital improvements which include the building of new facilities and bringing existing ones up to current safety standards. The May bond is funding additions to Mountain View Middle School and Bremerton High School among other smaller projects.
B stands for bonds and buildings while L stands for levies and learning, is the simple way one district official described the difference.
About half of levy funding goes toward classroom needs like additional teachers who help keep class sizes smaller, expanded summer school activities, updated instructional materials and supplies for teachers. The rest of the money is divided among school support, building maintenance, transportation, technology, student activities, athletics and equipment replacement.
Athletics rely heavily on levy money.
Without it, athletics cant really survive, said Krista Carlson, community services coordinator for Bremerton School District.
Knight sports are currently poised to make a leap back to being a solid competitor on the fields and courts, with a move from the 4A Narrows League to a revived 3A/2A Olympic League next fall, where Bremerton would be one of the largest schools rather than one of the smallest in its league as it is now.
The amount collected by the levy would be approximately $9.1 million in 2007, gradually stepping up to about $10.5 million in 2010. However, the district can only collect up to the levy amount approved so the tax rate can fluctuate depending on property values.
The Citizens for Good Schools, a volunteer group supporting the levy, presented a forum on the issue Thursday night at Mountain View, hoping to provide all the information voters need before making their decision.
Because each district is on the same cycle and it makes fiscal sense, Bremerton, Central Kitsap and North Kitsap schools have combined their efforts this year to promote their separate levies.