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CKSD School Board sends $7.6 million levy to voters

The Central Kitsap School Board unanimously approved Tuesday of a ballot measure to go to voters in February 2012 for a supplemental levy that would collect an increase in property taxes of 62 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for two-years.

The levy, if approved by voters, would collect $3.8 million each year in 2013 and 2014, totaling to $7.6 million for the two years.

Superintendent Greg Lynch said the school board's move to send the levy to voters is merely the district "exercising democracy."

County voters earlier this month soundly defeated a levy seeking similar dollar amounts for aid indigent veterans and the homeless.

School district officials said that the money from a supplemental levy would help "mitigate" cuts expected from the coming special legislative session as well as the district's recent loss of millions in federal aid.

Newly reelected Christy Cathcart was absent from the school board meeting, but had previously expressed support for a supplemental levy.

With the district facing an estimated $5 million to $8.6 million revenue shortfall for the 2012-2013 school year, board members said money from a supplemental levy is needed.

"It's important that the community gets the chance to support a levy, or not," said Lynch.

He added that it is also important to hear what the community sees important in education and to take those into account when the district makes cuts to programs.

"We have important decisions to make," Lynch said. "Where do they draw the line?"

The only other option would be deeper cuts to the district's expenses.

"It's unfortunate we have to do this. But it's unfortunate the state is doing what it's doing and we have to do what we have to do," said Chris Stokke, school board president.

At Tuesday's meeting, board members decided to sue the U.S. Department of Education over the loss of the district's Heavy Impact Aid – federal grants paid to district that serve larger military populations.

The district lost heavy impact aid after the federal government discovered the district did not levy enough property tax from residents in the district.

At the end of August, the district's legal council sent a letter challenging the decision and on Nov. 9 return correspondence arrived from the U.S. Department of Education denying the appeal.

The district's lawyer will petition for the right to continue with the appeal process.

Legal costs for the suit range between $20,000 and $25,000, according to Superintendent Greg Lynch.

Regardless of the outcome of the appeals process, the district can reapply in 2014 for heavy impact aid and could be receiving the money the following year.

 

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