District to Resubmit Levy Request
March 1, 2021
Selah School District Returns to Voters With Enrichment Levy Renewal
Enrichment Levy to be Placed on April 27 Ballot with Reduced Rate
Because of its commitment to students and the value of providing quality educational opportunities and experiences, the Selah School District Board of Directors has announced that it will resubmit to voters an Enrichment Levy renewal request on the April 27, 2021 ballot.
“The Board recognizes the last 12 months have been challenging and unprecedented times for the community,” said Board President, Jeff Hartwick. “Kids and parents have been dramatically affected by the year’s extraordinary circumstances. That is why the levy request is being resubmitted. As we continue to transition back to more classroom instruction, we will need every resource and program available for our students; many of which are funded by this renewal levy request.
“We’ve heard the voters and have lowered the projected levy rate to the lowest possible rate that still qualifies the District for full state Levy Equalization funds,” said Hartwick. With the renewed funding, the District will be able to continue providing students with the quality educational opportunities and support Selah families deserve and need now more than ever.”
The Enrichment Levy request is for two years at a projected collection rate of $1.50 per thousand and will renew the funds currently being collected to support programs and that expire in December 2021. In understanding the community’s frustration with the State’s tax system, the proposed $1.50 per thousand collection rate is reduced from February’s proposal and is the lowest amount the District can request without losing a pro-rated share of Levy Equalization (LEA) Funding. If passed, the District will continue to receive important LEA funding, projected at approximately $3 million per year. Therefore, it would be irresponsible of the District to not place the request on the ballot again. The District only receives the equalization dollars if the Levy is successful. If the Levy fails, LEA funds, which are already paid by Selah taxpayers through State level taxes, would leave Selah and be returned to Olympia and reallocated to other property poor districts passing levies. If approved, local levy funds and Levy Equalization funding comprise approximately 12% of the District’s budget from January 2022 through December 2023.
The District is only allowed to run a levy twice in a calendar year, meaning if it fails a second time it cannot be run again in 2021. However, this also means a funding source for the entire next calendar year would be lost. Further, the placement of the Enrichment Levy request on the April 27 ballot is important because in planning for next school year’s budget there are spring and summer timelines that need to be met, including decisions about program offerings and staffing. The remaining available election dates for 2021 are April 27, August 3, and November 2. Because the District budget needs to be adopted and filed with the State by August 31, April 27 is the only logical choice.
If the Enrichment Levy request is successful, funds generated help support valuable programs essential to student learning. Levy dollars fund what the State does not, or does not fully fund.
In Selah, if approved, Levy dollars would continue to support and enhance three main areas: Student Learning Support, Technology and Co-Curricular Activities. Specifically, Levy funding provides the District with professional development opportunities for staff, additional certified staff at the secondary level for program offerings, classified staffing for supervision and intervention, instructional materials, technology—including devices and support, nursing support, campus safety and security, athletics and activities, highly capable program support, and English Language Learning (ELL) support, to name a few items.
Although a State mandate closed classrooms last spring, the school year was seven months old and even then the District never halted its operation and continued providing services to students and families. Also, throughout this past year, Enrichment Levy funds approved in 2019, have been valuable as technology services, nursing support, professional development, and staffing to name a few, have been important in not only meeting students’ varying needs, but, also, successfully transitioning learners back to campus. Selah is one of very few Washington school districts that has resumed on-campus instruction at every building for students at every grade level. Like other school districts, Selah did receive COVID federal funds. However, the funds are specific to how they can be utilized and will not fully cover the amount needed by the District to offset COVID related costs. Now, with kids in classrooms and student opportunities expanding, the need to prepare for and secure levy funding for the future is not only necessary, it is critical for Selah learners.
According to Superintendent, Shane Backlund, the renewal of April’s Enrichment Levy is crucial as it will help maintain existing student learning opportunities and programs the community expects and that our students need.
“Kids are inspiring and this levy is absolutely critical to them so the District can continue providing Selah’s learners with quality educational, athletic, and activity opportunities that are valuable because of the impact to student learning and well-being. The reality is, if the Levy fails a second time reductions will have to be made,” said Backlund.
“I thank our students, families, staff, and community for their perseverance,” said Backlund. “This last year, for many reasons, has not been easy and there have been hard days. With uncertainty it is human nature to want to manage the aspects of our lives we can control. That is why this Levy is important because it continues funding the future with programs and opportunities that provide consistency and comfort for our students and that offer the full resources necessary to support them.
“The greatness within the Selah community is its strength of pride and banding together. Part of that is found in the spirit of our schools. As we continue to guide tomorrow’s leaders it’s important that in our commitment to kids we prepare them with equitable and high-quality learning programs and experiences, where they are prepared for college and career opportunities. If we continue to do this it will benefit our students, families, community, and our future.”