By Polly Keary, Editor
A two-year levy that pays for things that state funding does not cover will expire next year, and the Monroe School Board is likely to run a levy to replace it in February.
“The Learning Levy pays for the basic operations of the schools not funded by the state,” said school district Communication Director Rosemary O’Neil.
School levies can be for a maximum of four years, but two years ago, given the uncertainty in the economy, the board decided to run a shorter levy.
“Our school board wanted to be very sensitive to what may or may not happen and be able to adjust based on what the needs were in the short term,” said O’Neil.
Last week the board hosted two budget forums to seek input from the community on how to prioritize the use of funding in the district.
There is some extra funding from the state this year because of McCleary vs. Washington, a 2012 state Supreme Court ruling that found the state wasn’t fulfilling its obligation to adequately fund education.
But that bit of extra funding this year doesn’t make much of a difference in the overall budget, said O’Neil.
“We did see a little restoration of some state funding,” she said. “It’s a down payment on what they should be doing, but it was a step in the right direction.”
The money was designated for certain uses, among them all-day kindergarten for some poorer schools. Frank Wagner Elementary was already getting federal funding for all-day kindergarten, so now that federal funding will go to another low-income school program.
O’Neil said the district isn’t yet sure how much funding that will be.
“The government shutdown has caused us a little delay to know those numbers,” she said.
The district still draws about 20 percent of its budget from local taxpayers, she said.
The board has not yet decided how much to seek, nor finalized the date of the levy.
Anyone with a comment on the budget or the levy is welcome to send it to the school board at firstname.lastname@example.org or to call O’Neil at (360) 804-2503, O’Neil said.
The board was expected to discuss the matter Monday evening.