February 14, Valentine’s Day, marked the day Camas voters showed the love to Camas schools by passing school levies with record voting numbers. Voters made it clear, the Camas School District is surrounded by a community that supports the needs and goals of the schools.
Community support is important as local taxes help fund 17 percent of the Camas School District budget. Camas voters normally approve levies, but many people wonder how this money is actually used.
The Camas-Washougal Post-Record reports the 67.4 million dollar Maintenace and Operations (M&O) levy passed 66 to 34 percent. This specific type of levy is used to pay the salaries and benefits of approximately 50 staff members and fund the difference between state funding and basic educational costs. The M&O levy also makes up 20 percent of the overall district budget.
The Camas-Washougal Post-Record also reports the 7.1 million dollar Technology levy passed 67 to 33 percent voting yes. This levy is used to fund computers, telephones, networking, and equipment.
The week before voters took to the polls Jeff Snell, superintendent of the Camas School District, attended several senior classes at CHS in order to teach seniors more about how levies affect the district’s operating budget. He also encouraged those old enough, to use this opportunity and exercise their right to vote. Snell explained while public schools are mostly state funded, schools depend on levy funds for things such as textbooks, and smaller classroom sizes.
Snell explained public schools are mostly state funded, but depend on levy funds for things such as textbooks, and smaller classroom sizes. The Superintendent also explained that 86 percent of the total budget goes to support salaries and benefits for district employees. This means that if voters do not approve levies, staff cuts are possible.
Some citizens may worry about paying higher taxes. However, Snell pointed out the district can only ask for an amount up to 28 percent of the total budget for each levy request. Each property owner pays a portion of the total amount approved part based on their property value. A taxpayer typically pays an average of $6 per year as a result of levies.
In addition, seniors learned that bonds and levies rotate in a three to four-year cycle. Before a new levy is approved, the old one expires, so there are no additional taxes added.
Overall, students in the Camas School District should express gratitude to taxpayers for helping to create a successful learning environment. Snell explained in an email to the staff, ¨We owe a great deal to the Camas Citizens for Quality Schools–volunteers that spend countless hours advocating on our behalf. Thank them if you get the chance!¨