Vancouver Public Schools will have a replacement maintenance and operations (M & O) levy on the ballot Feb. 9, 2016. The current levy, which voters approved in 2013, will expire in 2016. The replacement levy will provide funding for schools in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The McCleary decision, mandating that the state fully fund basic education, has offset a fraction of budget cuts the state has made in past several years. However, state dollars still only comprise approximately 69.3 percent of the district’s general fund budget. The local levy, federal money and other sources make up the remainder. The M & O levy comprises about 18.2 percent of the district’s general fund budget.
Voters must reauthorize the local levy for each year of funding. In Vancouver, voters have approvedan M & O levy for every yearsince 1964.
To be approved, the M & O levy needs a 50 percent majority of yes votes. In Clark County, elections are vote-by-mail. Ballots will be sent to voters around Jan. 22. Returned ballots must be dropped off at designated locations or postmarked by Feb. 9.
Voters approve levy amounts, not levy rates. Vancouver’s levy amounts are lower than the levy lid set by the state. Taxes are shared among households and businesses within the boundaries of Vancouver Public Schools.
Proposed replacement M & O levy amounts are $46.2 million for 2017, $47.3 million for 2018 and $48.4 million for 2019.
Levy equalization funds
Vancouver Public Schools receives levy equalization funds from the state, but only if the local replacement M & O levy is approved by voters. For the 2015–2016 fiscal year, the district will receive approximately $9.5 million in equalization funds from the state. The district qualifies because its assessed value of property is lower than the tax base of wealthier districts.
To register and vote in Clark County, you must be a U.S. citizen, be a resident of the county, have your full civil rights and be 18 years old by the day of the election. To vote in an election for Vancouver Public Schools, you must live within the school district’s boundaries.
Voter registration forms are available at all school offices and at the Clark County Elections Department located at 1408 Franklin St. Or, you may register online if you have a valid Washington state driver’s license or a state identification card.
You may register to vote in Clark County up to 29 days prior to the election date if you are a voter currently registered in the state of Washington. Registration forms may be submitted by mail, online or in person.
If you are not registered to vote anywhere in the state of Washington, you may submit your registration form in person at the Elections Department up to eight days before the election date. For more information, contact the Clark County Elections Department at 360-397-2345.