Voters asked to approve $1.5 million M&O School Levy

OROVILLE – Oroville is seeking a replacement two-year Maintenance and Operations Levy to fund programs and other educational needs not funded by the state.

The election is Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010 and voters should have their mail-in ballots in hand and return them with postmarks no later than Feb. 9, according to election officials at the Okanogan County Assessor’s office.

Oroville School District is seeking a replacement $1.497 million that will be collected at rate of $2.31 per $1000 in assessed valuation, just nine cents per $1000 more than what the voters approved in 2008.

There are several reasons the district’s school directors decided to ask for the maximum amount. Perhaps the biggest reason is the loss of more than $400,000 a year in levy equalization funds because the state says the district no longer qualifies because of recent assessments of property values. State budget cuts are severely impacting all school districts in the state as well. Between the loss of levy equalization and cuts in state and federal funding, the Oroville school board is seeking the maximum amount and hopes to maintain at least the status quo without having to further cut staffing and programs.

The levy supports a long list of needs at the school district, including utilities, technology, maintenance, extra-curricular programs, two classified positions, transportation, curriculum, summer school, AP classes, libraries, substitutes, the gifted program, academic contests, the HOSTS program, Knowledge Bowl, yearbook, music program, vocational program, lunch/breakfast, sixth grade camp and classroom materials.

In 2008, taxpayers in our district paid $2.22 per $1000 of assessed valuation plus an additional 66 cents per $1000 of assessed valuation for the high school remodel in 1992. That bond was paid off last month. The net result is that Oroville taxpayers will no longer be paying 66 cents per $1000 for the remodel bond, according to Superintendent Ernie Bartelson..

Although Oroville is requesting a higher levy amount than each of the six nearby school districts seeking levy approval in February, at $2.31/$1000 its collection rate is the lowest. The other districts seeking levy approval in are Omak, $1,488,093 at $2.39/$1000; Brewster, $975,494 at $3.43/$1000; Bridgeport, $180,000 at $3.43/$1000 and Pateros (2011) $455,000 at $2.45/$1000 and (2012) $475,000 at $2.54/$1000.