School board prepares for replacement levy election

TONASKET – The Tonasket School Board prepared to distribute information on the upcoming replacement levy election even as they worked to cope with uncertainty regarding the level of district’s future Levy Equalization Act funding.

“We have our first official meetings … with each department on Wednesday,” said superintendent Paul Turner. “We’ll be putting together our brochures and we’re visiting five different (community) groups in January and February (to discuss the levy election).”

Ballots for the $1.15 million replacement levy will come out late in January, with the election taking place Tuesday, Feb. 14.

Turner said the challenge was painting a clear picture of what monies will be available to the district with a combination of the levy and the LEA funding. The state legislature’s December special session left the school funding picture no clearer than it had been before. Lawmakers gathered in Olympia Monday, Jan. 9, to kick off a 60-day session that may finally result in a firm clear of the state funding picture.

TSD’s current LEA funding of $762,000 could be reduced significantly, but the dollar amount won’t be known until well after the election.

“With all the uncertainty with levy equalization, we’re trying to find a way to talk about how much money we’ll have available,” Turner said, adding that the informational brochures will show both dollar amounts for items specific to the levy, and items dependent on LEA funding.

“Without knowing what we’re getting (from the state),” Turner said, “there’s things we don’t want to tie the district up to … There is the potential for $762,000 but we don’t know how much we’ll actually get of that.”

Some LEA funding could go to the extension of the school day, and the board authorized Turner to study and make a preliminary plan to return the district day to its full length. Tonasket schools have run a shortened day for years, costing students approximately 45 minutes per day of classroom time.

“I’d like to see if that can be accomplished,” Turner said. “It’s not a levy issue, but I want to be able to come back later to the board with a plan. It’s something we’ve talked about for a long time and haven’t really started the process for. It’s contingent on what happens with the LEA, but we should at least have a plan to move in that direction.”

In other business, special education director Liz Stucker presented her Title I school-wide plan, the global plan that will govern the special education plans for the elementary, middle and high schools.

Most work on the policies and procedure revision project was not addressed due to the absence of board member Ernesto Cerrillo, who is heading up the work on the 4000 series of policies. The first reading of policy 3241, Classroom Management, Corrective Actions or Punishment, was approved.

Finally Turner read a proclamation from Governor Christine Gregoire and presented certificates to each board member as the governor proclaimed January as School Board Appreciation Month.

The next Tonasket School Board meeting will be Monday, Jan. 23, at 7:00 p.m. in the district office board room.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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