School levy ballots due Feb. 11

Voters looking to participate in the special election this month regarding local school levy replacement must have their ballots in by Feb. 11.

Those ballots may be mailed or dropped off at deposit locations. Seven ballot deposit locations will be available for the special election through 8 p.m. on Election Day. Mailed ballots must be postmarked by Feb. 11.

On the ballot for the Bremerton School District is No. 100-C, a replacement levy that supports areas not fully funded by state or federal funds. For Central Kitsap School District voters, the measure is No. 401, a Maintenance and Operations renewal levy to support day-to-day operations.

Both are not new taxes, just renewals of expiring school support levies. Neither district has had a failed levy in the past 10 years, said Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore.

For Bremerton, the approximate levy rate per $1,000 would be $3.68 starting in 2015. In 2016, the rate will be $3.73, and for 2017 it will be $3.78 per $1,000 of assessed value. The rate will extend through 2018 and will hover at $3.83 the final year of the levy per $1,000 of assessed value. According to a Bremerton School District levy publication, the local levy and levy equalization fund almost 24 percent of the district’s overall budget.

“Bremerton School District wants to continue funding the programs and services supported by the current maintenance and operations levy previously approved by our community partners and families.  Many of these current programs and efforts are recognized by the state and federal government as both innovative and life-changing for students,” said Bremerton School Board President Scott Rahm. “Without your support this would not be possible as our state legislature continues to fall short in its responsibility to fund public education.”

The levy supports areas including classroom needs, school support, utilities and insurance, extracurricular student activities, transportation, special education and building maintenance.

Rahm stated he understands the trade off voters are making when they decide to vote for the levy.

“We value the sacrifices of our community and recognize that without your backing, educational programs and support offered in this district could be affected,” he said of those in favor of the levy.

The levy is 20 percent of the budget for Central Kitsap School District. On an average home assessed at $245,000, the rate per $1,000 will be $3.43 starting in 2015. In 2016, the rate will be $3.41 per $1,000 of assessed value. The existing rate is $3.23.

Levy funds for Central Kitsap will provide $20.8 million each year for the district from the two-year replacement levy. The funds will pay for athletics, all-day kindergarten, arts and drama, elective courses, libraries, music, smaller class sizes, special education, transportation, teachers and staff, technology, textbooks and instructional materials.

“I am grateful to live in a community that strongly supports public education,” said Central Kitsap Board President Mark Gaines. “Because our state does not fully fund public education, this levy is critical to our continued success. Besides helping fund almost every area of our program, passage of this levy makes us eligible for an additional $3 million in state funds and $6 million in federal funds.”

Ballots were mailed Jan. 10 to military and oversea voters. On Jan. 24, ballots were mailed to all registered Kitsap County voters. In the Bremerton School District, a total of 22,357 ballots were mailed out. As of the first week of February, 4,707 have been returned. In Central Kitsap, 39,028 were mailed, and voters have returned 9,164 ballots.

Gilmore said for this year the amount of ballots returned the week before elections is the same percentage that’s been returned in previous elections. Ballots have a projected return rate of between 40 and 45 percent, and the ballots are on track to reach that percentage this year, Gilmore said.

Neither levy issue had organized opposition.

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