Special Election Set for February 2021
On Feb. 9, 2021, Camas residents will vote on two Camas School District levies: one for Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O), one for technology-Capital. These are NOT new levies. They will replace two levies expiring at the end of 2021. Read about it in our 2021 Levy Brochure. This informational piece will be mailed on January 22 to all residences within the Camas School District boundaries; this is the same day ballots are mailed from the Clark County Elections Office.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the school district saving any money during this school lock-down?
Yes, and we are also losing revenue due to decreased enrollment. As of January 2021, enrollment is down 6.4%. Factoring in the expected revenue losses and forecasting expenditures, our district is on-trend to end the year in a $2-3M deficit. Several factors over the remaining months of the year could increase or decrease the anticipated deficit of $2-3M.
Why would I pay operational or technology taxes if the kids aren’t even in the buildings?
The pandemic is a serious, worldwide event not related to our local levies. If approved, these replacement levies will take effect in 2022, and we anticipate we will have resumed the activities our students have missed during this school year.
Didn’t the McCleary solution fix all the school funding our district needs?
Sadly, no. There are four main reasons why the McCleary decision missed the mark to create a sustainable, equitable funding model:
- Special Education is still not fully funded. Here in Camas, 16% of our levy dollars are used to fill the gap between State funding and our actual costs.
- The Legislature added regionalization factors on top of the state’s base salary allocations to districts in which median home values are higher than the statewide median. In Camas, we get a 12 percent factor, which is helpful, however, that factor is dropping to 11 percent this year, 10 percent for 2021-22, and nine percent for 2022-23 per the state. To date, we have not received an answer as to why this reduction is occurring.
- The revised teacher salary allotment from the state is a one-size-fits-all formula. Under the previous funding structure, districts received additional money to pay salaries for teachers with more experience and education. Post McCleary, the new “Prototypical School Funding Model” allocates funding to districts at an average. This means districts with highly educated, senior staff are under-funded. Last year, 56 districts of Washington’s 294 districts, were granted a 4 percent experience factor increase–we were not among them. (Source: Washington Research Council).
- The number of staff allocated in the Prototypical School Funding Model does not reflect how schools are staffed today. For example, we are funded for 1.175 nurses/health assistants for our entire district, and we staff 9.57 to ensure the safety and health of our students.
I am retired on a fixed income and have absolutely no money for any extra taxes. Out of curiosity, how much does the district get per child compared to other school districts?
When taxpayers get their tax statement this year, they will see a drop in local school tax rates. In 2020, Camas residents all paid $5.56/$1,000 of our assessed valuation (AV), and in 2021, it is projected to be $4.77. If voters approve both levies, tax rates are projected to stay the same: $4.77/$1,000 AV.
Regarding how much money we get, per-pupil spending is a more accurate indicator since districts with higher poverty qualify for more funding in general.
Per Pupil Spending (Source: OSPI)
- Washougal: $14,285
- Evergreen: $13,849
- Vancouver: $13,747
- Battle Ground: $13,236
- Camas: $12,842
Why can't the district operate within its current budget and make the necessary adjustments for the expiration of a previous levy?
The Camas community has supported schools through local levies for more than 40 years. Initially, levies provided money for things that cannot be funded by State, or basic education, dollars like extra-curricular activities. Over time, state funding did not keep pace with actual costs, and lawmakers pushed the burden on local communities to fill the gap with levy dollars.
Our levies make up about 20% of our budget. If we were to align our budget to State and Federal funding, we would not be able to continue extra-curricular activities. Classroom sizes, breakfast and lunch prices, and the length of time students spend on the bus would all increase. Additionally, many employees would lose their jobs. The amount of money we would have to maintain or replace computers, roofs, and HVAC systems would be almost non-existent.
Most of our parents cite Camas Schools as the reason they moved to Camas. It is our community support that makes our schools strong and vibrant.
There were funds allocated earlier this year for the sole purpose of the pandemic prep work in our schools (hand sanitizers, filters, masks, etc.) Has all of this been spent?
Yes. We were awarded $333K in CARES Act – COVID stimulus funding. As of January 2021, we have COVID expenditures of $683,812.
If the Levy does not pass on the February ballot I understand we can try again later this spring. If that second try doesn’t pass either, how long for a 3rd try at passing it?
Yes, the school board would likely bring the replacement levies back to voters in April so that, in the event of a second failure, we could meet the deadline of notifying staff of layoffs by May 15 for teachers and June 1 for classified staff. We are only allowed to put our levies to a vote twice in a calendar year, so the next earliest attempt would be February 2022.
BENEFITS TO STUDENTS
- Staff for smaller class sizes
- Textbooks & curriculum materials
- Security staff and resource officer
- All extracurricular activities
- Library staff and materials
- Health room staff and programs
- AP, Highly-Capable & accelerated programs
- Special education staff and materials
- Technology support staff
- Professional development
- Grounds, maintenance, and utilities
IMPORTANCE OF FUNDING
Like all Washington school districts, Camas School District relies on local, voter-approved levy dollars to make up the difference between state funding and basic education costs. Levy dollars make up approximately 20% of Camas School District’s budget.
Camas voters passed a bond in 2016 to construct and improve district facilities. These replacement levies would continue funding for the teaching, learning, health, and safety that go on within their walls.
WHY A THREE-YEAR LEVY?
- Ensures stable funding for the near future.
- Reduces election expenses.
- Helps avoid election fatigue.
COMMON $$$ QUESTIONS
- If assessed values increase, can the district collect more? NO
- If the district increases in assessed value over the next four years, will my cost per $1,000 increase? NO
- Can the levy amount be increased without a vote? NO
- A detailed brochure explaining the levies will be mailed to all patrons in the last week of January.
- Ballots will also be mailed in late January, with Election Day on Feb. 9.
- District staff will attend staff and community meetings at all schools to present information about these funding measures.
- For more information, please call the superintendent’s office at 360-833-5412 or connect with the principal of your nearby elementary, middle, or high school. Each school’s contact information can be found under the Schools & Resources section of this website.
PREVIOUS LEVY INFORMATION
2017 M&O plus Technology Levies
2013 M&O plus Technology Levies
2010 M& O Levy
2007 Technology Levy (Includes 2007 Bond)
2006 M&O plus Transportation Levies