UPDATE: On Tuesday January 10th the brochure below was removed/modified on the district website. This action was taken after we brought misstatements to the attention of the School Board and District…but who failed to act until the Clark County Assessor called them to task. There was an emergency meeting at the district office after which the district and board agreed to change certain language. Please note that they no longer say this is NOT a tax increase (because it is).
We will share the new brochure on this blog in the coming days. We want to make sure that you have the old version as a comparison to the new.
The Battle Ground School Board created and approved the distribution of a glossy brochure that tells voters and taxpayers that the new levy is just a replacement and that there is no tax increase….these are lies!
This entire document can be downloaded (as a pdf) by clicking this link: BGSD_2017_Levy_Brochure_w_Comments
Below we show you the EXACT brochure content that was sent out and we provide details for your consideration. To be clear we are NOT against a levy…we are just against the SIZE of this levy. It’s a 32% increase over the previous 4 years and is most definitely an INCREASE! They try to pull the wool over your eyes by saying the tax rate (cost per $1,000) will remain the same ONLY because your property value goes UP while your taxes go UP at the same time.
Give this a read and then share it with people you know. Help us tell the TRUTH.
Note: There are multiple spelling mistakes in their brochure. See if you can find them….
Following is the brochure that the BGSD has prepared and released to the public. We believe it contains information which needs comment.
The Levy proposal was passed on a 3-2 vote so the Directors do NOT agree
February 2017 Replacement Levy Information (this is their OLD brochure – this has been revised as noted above – we will post their new brochure in 3 days)
The Battle Ground Public Schools Board of Directors recently approved a resolution to put a replacement levy before voters on the Feb. 14, 2017 ballot. This Educational Programs, Maintenance and Operations (M & O) levy is not a new tax. It will replace the school district’s current levy, which provides about 23 percent of the district’s total operating budget and expires at the end of 2017. The tax rate for the levy is projected to stay the same as the current levy rate.
Comment: They are correct in that it is not new. What they do NOT say is that it represents a TAX INCREASE going from $103.3 million to $136.54 million = $33.24 million MORE. Indeed, the step UP from the last year of the old levy (2017 to 2018) $27.25 million to $31,680,000 = $4.43 million or slightly over a 16% increase in just one year!
Levy Dollars are the Difference
Levy dollars make up the difference between what the state provides for K-12 education and what it costs to operate schools while providing a quality learning environment. The district’s current maintenance and operations levy expires December 31, 2017. The replacement levy is not a new tax or a tax increase; it will maintain the current tax rate. Comment: The current tax rate is $3.66/$1,000 which means nothing. This is merely an artifact of property values rising. It IS a tax increase! It’s a $33 million tax increase!!! But wait…the current tax rate is actually about $3.32 so their numbers are wrong and $3.66 would be an increase!
The levy allows educational programs and facility services to continue at a level that provides an education focused on every child’s emotional and academic well-being and enables students to engage in quality learning environments.
Comment: Ask if there is ANY…ANY evidence or proof that having extra personnel makes a bit of difference in outcomes: graduation or test scores…anything…and the answer is NO! The extra personnel are there because the administration “believes…feels” that having them has value.
What does the levy provide for students?
Much of what the levy pays for is people. People are key to providing a quality education and getting students the support they need in both academics and social-emotional learning. Battle Ground’s levy helps keep class sizes small by providing an additional 260 teachers and school and district support staff above what the state funds. Teachers lead classes and programs and classified staff provide educational and administrative support in multiple areas, from health services and safety to office staff and maintenance.
Comment: Class sizes are smaller? Really? The numbers from the State of Washington show Battle Ground is almost the same as every other district. What we’ve been told over and over is that class sizes are too large. Why the difference now? Ask if there is any evidence the extra people make ANY difference….please ask for proof. ~28% more people than the State provides.
Note: Based on their numbers funded by the levy there are 267.03 MORE people than paid for by the State. This is a “nice to have” and not a “need to have”. What is the increase of $33 million paying for? Are we going to have even more people…with what results?
- School Psychologists – Students perform better academically if their social-emotional needs are met
- Nurses – The state pays for less than two nurses for 18 schools. Levy funds allow us to keep 12 full-time nurses on staff to provide on-site medical care to students
- Security – Many students and parents have said they feel safer knowing security personnel monitor their campus
- Teaching assistants – Support students in the classroom, at recess, during lunch, before school and at release time
- Techology Services – BGPS is launching a 1:1 initiative so that every student has equal access to technology
- Maintenance/Grounds/Custodial/Warehouse – With 18 schools in the district, keeping our campuses well maintained and aqequately clean is a huge undertaking. Levy funds enable BGPS to hire enough staff to keep up with the constant demand
- Principals & Assistant Principals – The levy provides for assistant principals who help in areas of positive behavior, attendance and staff support
- Other certificated staff – Class size is important to BGPS, and these 92 staff allow the district to have some of the smallest class sizes in the region, providing a more effective, individualized learning environment
Comment: These are administration choices. No other district in Southwest Washington has as large a percent of EXTRA staff as Battle Ground. Ask how many principals and assistant principles there are at the high schools. Can taxpayers afford these extra people…if there is no evidence there is value?
Below are just some of the examples of what the levy funds:
- About 25 percent of teachers, support and administrative staff
- Small class sizes (ask how BG compares to Evergreen and Vancouver)
- Art, music, drama
- Textbooks and curricula
- After-School Activities
- School psychologists and counselors
- Security and communications
- Transportation (most of this is paid for by the State)
- Professional Development
- Building maintenance
Where are levy dollars spent?
Levy dollars are pooled with state funds to help pay for basic services that provide a quality education. The levy enables the district to keep class sizes small, maintain facilities, supply technology resources to students, and provide for staff that enhance security, learning experiences and after-school activities.
The levy provides basic educational supports that the state does not fund, including textbooks and curricula, professional development, transportation, and building maintenance. It also pays for health services, music and art classes, after-school activities, drug prevention education, instructional technology, building security, education for students with special needs, utilities, and insurance.
Local funding provides the difference between what the state pays for and what it actually costs to operate schools. In Washington, 97 percent of the 295 school districts rely on levy money to provide important student programs and services.
The below Tax Rate Chart shows M&O tax rate and levy dollars collected:
The election will be February 14 with ballots available January 27. Clark County voter registration information is online at https://www.clark.wa.gov/elections/voter-registration. Residents can register to vote online up to 29 days before Election Day or in person up to 8 days before Election Day.
NOTE: Some senior and disabled homeowners may be eligible for a property tax exemption, based on income. Please call the Clark County Assessor’s Office at (360) 397-2391 for details.
District administrators and board members are available to answer questions and share additional details about the replacement levy. To schedule an informative presentation for your community organization or civic club, please call the district office at (360) 885-5300. Comment: Call and see what the real requirements are…it’s nearly impossible so the Board Directors certainly didn’t.
What are the facts?
1) Inflation has been about 1.1% per year for the last 4 years
2) The average wage increase in Clark County last year was 2.3%
3) To maintain the exact same services in place now (including the extra 267 people already on the books) they would only need a 1.5% increase. Lets take a look at a 1.5% and a 3% per year increase and compare that to what they have put on the ballot:
|Levy @ 1.5% Increase
|Levy @ 3% Increase
|Proposed “new” levy
|Percent Increase in proposed levy
So the real question: What is the district going to do with another $15 – $20 million that isn’t already covered? Add more people? Why do they need 32% MORE money when they already have far more people (on a percentage basis) that any other district in SWW?
The increase is FAR more than what people are earning and taking home. What bills will families stop paying for what clothes or food won’t they buy?
Finally, checking the other districts with levy’s on the ballot in February you see that several are asking for 3% more per year with one at 5%. Looking at the Battle Ground District they BLOW the others away. There decision was based on……how much they thought they could get while pulling the wool over the taxpayers eyes?
Finally…the vote to send this proposal to the voters was NOT unanimous. It was 3-2.
Voting NO and telling the board to come back with a reasonable request is your right.