by Richard Uhlhorn
You have your ballots, and now you have a decision to make. It is actually an easy one. The Lake Chelan School District is asking voters within the District to vote “YES” on its two replacement levies on February 11.
What voters are being asked is to continue to help finance the various educational programs in the Lake Chelan School District. What was called an M&O levy in the past is now referred to as an EPO Enhancement Levy or Education Programs and Operations Replacement Levy.
The second request is a Technology Levy that will provide funding for the replacement of aging computers, printers, servers and document cameras along with staff training. This new request will result in an estimated tax rate of 9.3 cents per $1,000.
The Technology Levy will provide funding for new computers, printers, servers
and document cameras, and Staff Training.
Currently, the Lake Chelan School District is receiving $1.31 per $1,000 of assessed value for Maintenance and Operations and the Technology Levy is approximately 10 cent per $1,000 in 2020 for a combined total of $1.41 per $1,000.
The new requests, if passed by 50 percent of the District’s registered voters is estimated to drop to $1.38 in 2021 and $1.34 per $1,000 in 2022. The EP&O Levy being requested is for two years while the Technology Levy will run through 2024.
“If we don’t pass this levy, it directly impacts our students,” said School Administrator Barry DePaoli.
Chelan High School Students fulfilled their civic duty by holding a Candidate’s Forum for the Mayor Race this past November.
The primary reason schools seek additional funds through the levy process is that the State of Washington only provides approximately 82 percent of the funds required to operate a school district.
The EP&O Levy funds the following:
- Student Support:
Nurses – Resource Officer – Liasions – Counselors
- Maintenance & Operations:
Additional Staff – Food Services
- Academic Programs & Classroom Support
Early Learning Programs – College in the High School Courses
Curriculum Materials – STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) – Highly Capable Program – Chelan School of Innovation – Career & Technology Education Course & Programs
- Enrichment Activities & Programs:
Athletic Offerings – Afters Program (MOE & CMS) – Club Programs (FFA/FCCLA/FBLA/Chelan Project, etc) – Arts Programs (Music, Art, Drama) – Experiential Field Trips (San Juans/Holden Village)
High School schedule that creates opportunities for acceleration, exploration and remediation.)
Lake Chelan School District has not failed a levy in the last 20 years.
The school district has a number of successful programs that have been funded in part or in full from the current levy.
The Lake Chelan School District’s AFTERS Program helps students who are struggling to catch up and provides enrichment opportunities
like photography for other students.
The Afters Program is 28 years old this year. I have been involved since 2005 when I was asked to begin a Photography enrichment program for the middle school and elementary school, along with helping set up a high school photography program. It consists of two separate programs; Target Afters where students who are struggling receive help and Enrichment Afters where students elect to be involved in a variety of activities. This program keeps many students at the school until 4:30 p.m. instead of dumping them at home when the parents are still at work.
School Athletics is a large part of a student’s team building.
Funding for the Athletics Program comes from the levy. Funds are used to pay coaches and for transportation services to and from event and activities.
The Chelan Project is a 110 member strong Associated Student Body leadership program that is recreation and service oriented.
The Chelan Project is a ASB leadership organization that is focused on promoting and enhancing outdoor recreation and environmental awareness. This student organization offers kids a chance to go backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, skiing and rock climbing. It began with a small group, but now has 110 members.
Chelan Middle and High School have a successful music program.
Chelan’s Music Program is well known for its excellence and will be traveling to Disney Land in April to perform. On March 17 and 18 the Middle School and High School will perform its Spring Concert in the Performing Arts Center. This is a levy funded program that produces an excellent evening of music.
This past Fall, 110 seventh grade students traveled up-lake to the remote village of Holden where they attended educational workshops and visited the $500 million dollar Rio Tinto Rehabilitation Project.
Student trips: With Rio Tinto finishing its rehabilitation project at Holden, Middle School seventh graders had the opportunity to spend four days in this remote village in workshops and tours. It is a program designed to bring the students together in a setting that has no outside influences like cell phones. The students learn to work together and are introduced to a number of environmental activities.
“We need the levy funds to backfill what the State doesn’t provide,” said DePaoli.
DePaoli and the school board are also beginning to plan for the District’s future. After the failure of the major bond issue last year, Depaoli said, “We are looking at a path forward and will be communicating with the community on what their vision is. We have some challenges.”
Phase I will brainstorm community values regarding the district, students, schools, educators and program offerings.
Phase II will identify issues and opportunities for the district including programs, technology advancements, cultural shifts, needed facility improvements, and funding shortages.
Phase III will develop short and long term plans.
“We need to know where we will be at the end of the decade,” said DePaoli. “We need to look at capital projects. We will be spending way more time with the process with the community.”