School Levy – Vote "NO"
Last updated 10/21/2020 at 8:36am
The Grand Coulee Dam School District received approximately $127,000 tax money from the Federal Government under the P.L. 874. You cannot tax the Dam etc. The district will receive at least this amount for this budget year. We are currently paying $3.20 in Levy. The district is asking another $1.00 per thousand for a total of $4.20 per thousand. Don’t forget that the state is obligated to fund education 100%, so the district receives money for “Full Time Equivalent” (FTE) students.
The Board of Directors negotiated a $123,500 three-year salary package to Superintendent Mr. Turner. This might be a going salary rate, I have not researched, but not mentioned is “PERKS,” such as unused vacation buy back at per-diem, in district travel allowance, probable cell phone paid, medical paid? Life insurance paid? According to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, this amounts to about a 10% increase in salary during a recession? (Generally the contract states 30 days’ vacation, exclusive of the federal holidays.) The point is that the Board of Directors knew of this potential monetary shortfall when negotiating the contract.
We have an estimated 750 full time equivalent students. Two principals totaling about $180,000, two deans of students totaling about $160,000, a special education director at approximately $100,000, for an approximate total of $563,000 in management.
The district has ADDED two-and-a-half FTEs at the district office. Personal secretary to the Superintendent, previously accomplished by the previous staff; a test coordinator, previously assigned to the counselors; and a half-time human resource person, previously handled by present staff.
Have you noticed the stores closed, the struggling going on to keep open, and have you noticed your spending power down? Have you asked your neighbors, friends about the stimulus money that they are looking forward to because of “NEED,” not “GREED”? We are a high retirement community on fixed incomes.
Have you read the Okanogan County’s loss of revenue because of the fires is $5.3 million and Douglas County’s is $3.74 million? I do not have figures for Grant and Lincoln Counties. But wait, THIS LOSS IS NOT A LOSS OF REVENUE. These counties will collect the same amount of money as before the fires, because the law so states, so property taxes will go up to compensate for this loss. (Plus an estimated 9% personal property increase according to the Spokesman Review.)
Have you given thought to the Washington state budget shortfall of TWO BILLION? The legislature will soon convene to address this SHORT FALL. More taxes?
We did not ask for the COVID-19 virus, but we must deal with it, and belt tightening is a necessity. This is the wrong time to ask for more levy money. For the first time in nearly 60 years living in the Grand Coulee Dam area and spending 40 of those years in education, I CANNOT SUPPORT THIS LEVY at this time. I believe the district can provide an excellent educational program for our students with the present revenue and without a Reduce in Force (RIF).
School finance is complicated, and it is difficult to track money in the budget, probably by design. Generally speaking, 85% of the budget is in salaries. Two figures that I do not have, but generally inform the financial straits of the district is the amount of money in accounts: BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND ESTIMATED CASH RESERVE.
It is a shame that the only tax that can be voted against is school levies. If the 60% requirement to pass a school levy was still law, this levy would fail, in my opinion.