Submitted by Bran Zeski
OROVILLE – On Nov. 27, the Oroville School Board met for its monthly board meeting and heard a presentation about the upcoming school levy.
Due to competing priorities, Board Directors Kolo Moser and Travis Louden were not present and were excused from the meeting. Superintendent Dr. Jeff Hardesty attended by phone.
Recently retired Oroville School District Business Manager Shay Shaw provided a presentation to the board in attendance regarding Resolution Number 317, the proposed Education Programs and Operations Levy which would potentially be on the ballot in February 2024.
Shaw reported that the proposed levy would be based on a specific dollar amount to be raised and not based solely on a property tax percentage amount. The new levy, if passed, would approve an increase over the expiring levy by $335,430 for a total of $1,565,030 to be collected in calendar years 2025 and 2026 and would be a replacement for the current levy which was approved by voters last year and runs through the end of 2024.
Although the overall amount is an increase in dollar amount, Shaw explained that the district worked to keep the increase to a minimum.
“We are always trying to think about what’s going on out there with the taxpayers, the economy, things that are going on. A lot of districts, they are just going for it, but we always try to only ask for what we feel really need. And then, when you look at that, we’re asking for $335,000 more, where is it we need this money to go?”
Shaw explained that all of the additional money would be going to existing areas of the budget to cover escalating expenses in those areas.
“What we’ve had to do is add some to a few of those areas. A couple of those areas are the costs for the sports programs, clubs and classes because all of those things are going up [in price].
“We’re increasing our extracurricular budget by $25,000 to help cover the cost of referees, the cost of travel that goes along with it, because the cost of travel is going up and just the overall cost of uniforms and the fees that we pay to WIAA (Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association).”
Shaw also explained an increase in Special Education costs: “We have seen in the last couple of years an absolutely dramatic cost. It’s almost staggering the increase of cost in our Special Education. What is happening is that we’re seeing an increase in students coming to us that have very high needs so we’re seeing more costs for speech-language services, occupational therapists, our physical therapists and [psychologists]. We need to have teachers come in and help with IEP writing, Para costs because we must have one-on-one Paras on students. So that is completely new. It was not in the levy before.”
Superintendent Hardesty made a final remark, over the phone, regarding the levy presentation, “Oroville has passed [the levy] for the amount that is needed. It’s never a pie-in-the-sky and that’s been taking place long before I got here. We’re fiscally conservative. I think the increase you’re seeing is a result of increased costs and so it’s hand-in-hand that we ask voters for what we need to maintain normal operations and nothing more.”
Following the public comment period, the board voted to approve all of the agenda Items, including the resolution for the new two-year levy proposal, by unanimous consent.