Bainbridge schools to explore reducing technology levy

The Bainbridge Island School District board of directors reaffirmed its goal of keeping taxes stable while balancing the option of a levy lid lift with its expiring technology levy at its meeting Wednesday.

“It’s a promise we’ve made to the community,” board president Patty Fielding said. “If we can do this by reducing the tech levy a little and if the numbers lay out and that keeps us stable, I think that’s the way to go.”

SHB 2893 allows school districts with levy lids more than 24 percent – such as Bainbridge – to increase their levy requests by 4 percent for 2011-2017.

The levy lift would allow the district to request an additional $625,000 in 2011 and $200,000 in 2012. The increase in the programs and operations levy could be used to fund teachers and maintain low class sizes. This request must be put to voters on the November ballot in order to collect taxes in 2011.

However, the district’s four-year $6.1 million technology levy also expires at the end of 2010 and would need to be renewed by voters.

At its May 27 meeting, the board expressed interest in putting the levy lift to voters while reducing the technology levy by $825,000 for a total four-year request of $6.1 million.

The levy lift would allow 10 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value to be levied in 2011 and three cents per thousand dollars in 2012, said Peggy Paige, Director of Business Services.

With the reduction of the tech levy, however, the combined lid lift and reduced technology levy would total the current technology levy rate of 25 cents per thousand over four years.

“It shows we’re watching our pennies and nickels and we’re not just spending money wildly,” board member Mike Spence said. “The risk is if we ask for an increase and we lose, then we’re behind. Then we’re going backward not going forward or even staying steady.”

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