A ribbon cutting in September at the new Kent Laboratory Academy. Kent School District voters will decide on the Feb. 8 ballot whether to approve a two-year levy to help fund programs and staff throughout the district. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

A ribbon cutting in September at the new Kent Laboratory Academy. Kent School District voters will decide on the Feb. 8 ballot whether to approve a two-year levy to help fund programs and staff throughout the district. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Kent School District plans Zoom meetings about levy on Feb. 8 ballot

Three opportunities in January to ask questions about the replacement and operations measure

Families, students, staff and the community are invited to listen, learn and ask Kent School District leadership questions about the replacement educational programs and operations levy on the Feb. 8 ballot.

The district will hold Zoom meetings, which will be recorded and live-streamed on YouTube. The levy presentation will be shared on the district website before the meeting for review. The same information will be shared at each meeting, however, the district will offer three opportunities to join the meetings:

• Thursday, Jan. 6, 12-1 p.m.

• Saturday, Jan. 8, 9–10 a.m.

• Thursday, Jan. 13, 6-7 p.m.

Attendees will be able to listen to information and then ask questions about the levy live through Zoom. All sessions will be recorded and posted to the district website. A Spanish recording of the presentation will be posted on Jan. 6.

Voters in the district are being asked to approve a two-year levy that will bring in about $76.2 million per year in 2023 and 2024.

The Kent School Board unanimously approved a resolution on Nov. 10 to send the measure to voters to maintain funding for programs supported by the levy that are not fully funded by the state. This levy would replace the levy approved by voters in 2020 that expires in December 2022.

Interim Superintendent Israel Vela said at the board meeting that he is confident that this amount of funding would allow the district to maintain its current programs while remaining fiscally responsible and sensitive to the overall tax rate.

If approved, a property owner would pay about $1.88 per $1,000 assessed value in 2023 and $1.86 per $1,000 assessed value in 2024. That would cost the owner of a $600,000 home about $1,128 per year.

The levy amounts of $76.2 million per year are a fixed dollar amount that represents the maximum that may be raised through the levy, if approved.

The levy funds about 150 teachers who are not covered under the state funding, according to the district. The levy also pays for 17 nurses not supported by state funding. State funding covers four nurses.

School security personnel and technology also is mainly funded from the levy. The district has 12 positions in school safety, state funding covers only 4.5 positions, according to the district.

Levy money also helps fund athletic and art programs in the district as Associated Student Body fees cover only a small amount of the costs.

Local funding provides about 16% of the district’s annual budget, according to the district website. The state provides about 78% and the federal government 5% with about 1% from a variety of fees, grants and donations.

Voters approved the two-year renewal levy by 55% to 45% in 2020. The maximum amount that can be collected in 2021 is $69 million. The maximum amount that can be collected in 2022 is $76.2 million. Voters in 2018 approved the replacement and operations levy with 50.53% in favor.

Find out more information at KSDLevy.org.

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