Oroville Schools seek $1.5 million levy

District asking same amount as previous three levies

OROVILLE – The Oroville School Board decided it will ask the voters to replace the outgoing two-year maintenance and operations levy without an increase over what they have asked the taxpayers the previous three times they went to the voters.

The current two-year M&O Levy money is being collected through the calendar year 2016, the new levy, if approved in February of 2016 would be collected in 2017 and 2018. The school directors set the levy amount at $1,497,371 at their Monday, Nov. 23 meeting. The collection rate would be $2.40 per $1000 in property valuation.

Shay Shaw, the district’s Business Manager explained that the property valuation within the school district is $556,189,328, down from $624,812,492 when the levy was approved in 2014. At that time the collection rate was $2.40, but if approved the collection rate for the new levy will be $2.69.

“Currently we have levy authority to ask $1,874,142 and with a total district valuation of $556,189,328, if we asked the maximum then the rate per thousand would be $3.47,” said Shaw, who explained that the district’s property valuation had dropped due to the lower valuation of the Buckhorn mine which is in the process of winding down operations.

“Okanogan County Assessor Scott Furman said that they are going to keep Buckhorn going through 2016,” said Superintendent Steve Quick. “If they stop in 2016 there are still a lot of question marks because it seems to be a moving target. The bottom line is new construction will help, but how much.”

“Lake values have dropped 30 percent… if it continues to drop it will affect us quite a bit,” said School Director Rocky DeVon. “We levy four times harder and we raise about half as much versus Bellevue.”

Shaw discussed Levy Equalization and said the district may be eligible for about $16,000 for the first time since the district lost Levy Equalization due to the increase in overall property valuation because of the mine and new construction. Now that the mine is winding down operations the district may be eligible for some Levy Equalization, which the state awards to district with low property valuation compared to larger urban areas with much more valuation. The money is only given to districts that approve their levy.

She compared Oroville with other school districts in the county and how much Levy Equalization they receive. Tonasket received $884,855 in 2015, Okanogan received $1,173,113, Omak received $5,524,625 and Brewster received $871,499.

“I’m worried that we’ll get a little Levy Equalization and then in 2018 it will go away,” Shaw said, because the authorization is supposed to sunset, but supposedly the state is going to fully fund.”

Shaw said that setting the levy amount is a “bit of a challenge” especially at the high school because we still have to offer all those required classes.

“Realistically when you take a look at this they’re (the state) not fully funding education. You can fire classifieds, you could get rid of extracurriculars, but a lot of things are contractual obligations like certified personnel and other fixed expenses like utilities,” said Shaw.

“If we continue with the $2.40 we only generate $1,334,854 or $539,288 less than our max,” said Shaw, adding the staff recommends the district stick with raising the same amount as they have asked in the previous three two-year levies and that would take the $2.69 per thousand rate.

She added that the district made the final payment for the three-year Capital Levy that paid for the new roof on the elementary. That means a savings of about $.72 per thousand to the taxpayer that will be coming off.

At the beginning of the school board meeting Supt. Quick and the other board members thanked Rocky DeVon and Amy Wise for their service on the school board. Wise is stepping down after several terms on the board and DeVon, the current board chairman, was not reelected in the General Election in November. A cake was served in their honor.

The school board also heard reports from fall sports coaches, Ed Booker and Dawn Miller on the Avid Program, Principals Joan Hoehn and Kristin Sarmiento, Student Representative Dakota Haney and Supt. Quick.

Under new business, employees that were teaching out of their endorsement areas and are fully certified by the state got the approval of the board.

The board approved the resignation of Mike Bourn as head girls basketball coach and the hiring of Chad Matthews in that position. Bill Contrell was approved as the assistant coach for the team. Justin Scott and John Hilderbrand were approved as volunteers for the team as well. Jim Thacker will return as the head boys basketball coach.

Overnight trips were approved for Upward Bound to Leavenworth on Dec. 18-19; Gear Up to Central Washington University on Dec. 4 and 5 for high school students and Gear Up to CWU on Dec. 11 and 12 for the State Robotics Competition for junior high students.

Bergh Funeral Services donated $200 for yearbook expenses; the Oroville Booster Club donated $1230 for high school basketball uniforms and $642 for rib pads and the online Huddle Program.

Lastly, the board approved a motion to allow eighth grade participation in high school athletics, following all WIAA guidelines.