North Mason schools levy on Nov.2 ballot
October 21, 2021
The North Mason School Board is hoping that the third time is the charm for passing a levy on the Nov. 2 ballot.
North Mason tried to pass levies in February and April of 2020, but was unsuccessful, which prompted the formation of a levy committee to allow for community input to produce the best levy for the community.
“Our levy committee is an outstanding group of individuals that represent all different facets of our community,” North Mason School District Superintendent Dana Rosenbach said. “We were very deliberate in growing that committee once it got started to ensure we had people represented who had had really strong negative feelings about the levy last year. We asked them to be a part of the committee and those voices, and those ideas are what helped us really hone down our request and make it the smallest that we could make it but still meet the needs of kids. We really appreciated having those folks on the committee because they asked really hard questions and we worked together to build a levy request that makes sense for our community and our district but that they felt that they could strongly support.”
The projected tax rate per $1,000 assessed property value is estimated to be $1.32 in 2022, meaning a home worth $300,000 would pay $396 in levy costs in the first year. The tax rate is projected to decrease over the time of the levy due to more houses and buildings being built with more taxpayers to support the levy.
The levy amount is $3,831,125 each year from 2022 to 2025.
“Historically, this district has always kept the levy flat for the life of the levy,” Rosenbach said. “The failed first levy in 2020 was the first time we tried to adjust it year per year like most districts do and our community didn’t like that. That was often cited as the reason that folks were not in support of that levy.”
The projected tax rate is cheaper than the levy in 2020, which was $1.87 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Levies pay for a lot for schools, including athletics, clubs, music, theater, small class sizes, school supplies, technology, transportation and staff, according to North Mason School District website. The state does not fully fund all programs, just services that fall under basic education for schools.
For voters without kids, Rosenbach noted that children are the future of the community and the need to support them.
“The schools are the center of the community and our children are the future of the community and if we have a well-educated populous, then that is good for the health of our community long-term,” Rosenbach said. “That means our kids need to have access to the same resources that kids across the state do.”
The bond and levy total equates to $2.40 per $1,000 assessed property value, which is the second lowest total in the county behind Mary M. Knight at $2.35.
The McCleary decision from the state Supreme Court in June 2018 funds basic education. According to Rosenbach, the decision redefined what basic education is and it doesn’t pay for all the staff needed to run a district, using some old staffing formulas to calculate how many employees are needed for basic education.
“Those staffing formulas would say that in a district our size, with six-plus buildings and all the fields that we have, that we only need three custodians,” Rosenbach said. “That’s just not practicable. We have to staff at the level that provides for the safety and security of our staff and our students and our buildings and that provides us to have learning environments that are effective for students and so we have to staff beyond what the state pays for.”
There is a plan for if the levy doesn’t pass. Rosenbach said last time, the district cut almost $2 million.
“We will have to take deep cuts again if that’s the case,” Rosenbach said. “We might have to look at things like what activities we can offer for students. We might have to look at transpiration and whether we can do that. Although we get separate funding for transportation … it doesn’t cover the full cost of transpiration in a district like ours where the streets don’t all go on a grid like they do in a city. So we might have to tighten up some of those resources. There’s a lot that we’ve looked at that if we do that process again, we do that in open process within the district with our employees and then with the board and making sure that everybody knows what’s going on as we make those decisions.”
Rosenbach said she’s hopeful that the levy will pass on Nov. 2.
“Given the state of our country right now, you’ve got to be a little bit nervous at least but we’re hopeful,” Rosenbach said.