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Nespelem School levy on ballot for Tuesday


At "Literacy Night" last week, Nespelem student Moses Luevano explains to his mother Lucille Luevano, left, and Dennis Montes how reading programs and Google Apps work. Students can use the Google cloud software for writing and collaboration. The Lexia reading program teaches foundational skills, while the Accelerated Reader 360 lets students read at their own level on matters of interest to them. The district is seeking to renew its tax levy support in part to provide more programs for "highly capable" students. - Sheri Edwards photo

Voters will decide Feb. 9 whether to continue property tax support of Nespelem Elementary School by paying only about a tenth of the amount of money the levy actually would bring to the school.

The school teaches about 120 students in pre-school through eighth grades.

That count is up from last year, says Rich Stewart, superintendent of the district, whose board of directors budgeted for only about 100 students this school year.

"We are hoping this trend continues as our program has made significant positive changes," Stewart said.

Voters are asked to approve a property tax assessment that would directly bring in only about $34,000 a year. Approving the levy, however, would make the district eligible to receive state "levy equalization" funds of nearly $318,000 more.

The four-year levy would replace the current levy passed in 2012 and mean about $1.4 million in total to the district.

Property owners would pay about $2.49 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. The amount would stay the same for all four years and not increase the way the current levy did. Collection would begin in 2017.

The dollars would serve two purposes, Stewart said: pay for professional training for staff, and expand the school program to benefit "highly capable" students.

"The dollars allocated are very little from the state," Stewart said. "And we want to have more students involved in these types of programs."

Stewart said the district is actually authorized to seek levy up to more than 10 times the amount its asking for, but board members wanted to hold the amount to what they considered necessary for the good of the students, while being sensitive to taxpayers.

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