Waterville School District will have two levies on Feb. ballot

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

(Provided image/Waterville School)

The Waterville School District has two levy measures on the ballot for the Feb. 12 special election. Ballots will be mailed out by Jan. 25.

The first measure is the Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Tax Levy. The second is a Capital Levy for Technology and Facilities Improvements.

The Educational Programs and Operations Levy is the regular levy that provides funding for many programs in the school district. Since 2018, these regular school district levies have been capped by state law at $1.50 per $1,000 assessed property value, and this is the amount the school district is requesting. The total amount to be collected in 2020 is $346,656.

This is a significant reduction from the $800,000 collected in 2018 from $4.28 per assessed $1,000.

School Superintendent Tabatha Mires wrote in an email that state dollars designed to compensate districts for the loss in levy funds have needed to be used to meet the state?s new salary scale and have not been available to make up for the shortfall in funds created by the levy cap.

Both in 2018 and in 2019, the district chose to run the levies for one year only in the hopes that the Legislature may adjust this legislation.

The Capital Levy for Technology and Facilities Improvements would collect $1 per assessed $1,000 in 2020 and 2021 for a total collection of $231,104 in 2020 and $246,588 in 2021. The money is being requested for the district to acquire security cameras, communication and emergency alarm systems, classroom computers and other technology equipment. In addition, funds would be used to renovate, modernize and repair the school building.

In past years, capital projects levies have been used to replace the lighting and heating systems and the roof.

?This levy has a different focus than that, however, in that it will allow us to make needed improvements to safety and facilities in our aging building and also provide the infrastructure we need to use our technology,? Mires wrote. She added that the improvements will not be possible without passage of the levy.

Mires wrote that the school board members have created a list of facility improvements that they hope to work on completing.

?We have many projects that need to be included but projects like replacing our intercom, ensuring security at entrances, and making sure our technology infrastructure allows us to utilize the technology we already have are some of our priorities,? she wrote.

Mires added that it is fortunate that many needs were able to be addressed over the past several years when the Educational Programs and Operations Tax Levy revenue was higher.

Mires wrote that she and other members of the school district are thankful for the consistent support of the Waterville Community for school levies.

?We will continue to manage our taxpayer dollars carefully and work to continue providing all that our students at Waterville deserve,? Mires wrote.

She added that the school district has been forced to make cuts to classified staff, certified staff, administrative staff and programs in order to adjust to decreased revenue due to the levy cap.