East Valley School District to ask voters for 2 levies aimed to improve security, education for students

East Valley School District buildingSPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — Children should be safe at school, and the East Valley School District wants to make sure of that. It’s asking voters to help pay for that safety, among other things, in the upcoming February election.

Superintendent Kelly Shea says the two levies they’re asking for will replace two previous ones, which expire December 2020.

The first levy is called the educational programs and operations levy. It was formally known as the maintenance and authorization levy, Shea said.

The second is the capital projects levy that will help provide safety, security and infrastructure improvements, according to the district.

First – the educational programs and operations levy will be used over the course of four years.

“It funds many, many things for us,” Shea said.

The previous levies helped employ about 60 additional staff in the school district. This time around, it’ll add a second school resource officer and a district security position. This levy will also help fund extracurricular school activities and get the district more school materials.

This money, they say, will help fill the money gap of what the state gives them and what they’re adding on.

“A levy pretty much touches everything – it supplements food service, it supplements special education. Anything the state doesn’t fund but we need to have, the levy dollars will fill that void,” Shea said.

For example, the state only gives school districts certain amount of money for each thing. Shea said the state only gives them money for half-time counselors at each of their elementary schools.

“We do not feel that a half-time counselor meets our needs, so we employ a full time counselor at each elementary,” Shea explained.

The educational programs and operations levy will cost a taxpayer $2.50 per $1,000 assessed value.

The capital projects levy would be for two years. Shea said they hope to redesign the parking lots of their elementary schools to accommodate higher amounts of traffic, and to switch the entrances to their elementary schools.

“By doing that, we can lock the front door. If every kid, all 500 students are coming through the front door everyday, we’ll have to leave those doors unlocked in the morning, which means people can freely come and go,” he said.

Any guests that walk in are supposed to check into the office first, but Shea said it’s based on the honor system.

“This isn’t just about the convenience of new parking lots,” Shea said.

In previous years, Shea said the district conducted a survey with the community. The district learned that safety and building security were the two most important things to the community.

“The capital levy we have going forward right now is to continue the work of what our community has told us they want in schools. I think there’s a direct connection between what we’re asking for and what our community is offering,” he said.

That safety and security levy in schools is still in the works, too. There was a previous levy that passed in 2018 that helped further improve school security. All the district’s single-door entries will be secured. That means the schools will install an extra door with a vestibule area – the first set of doors will be unlocked, and grant you access to the vestibule. The second set of doors will get you into the building, but will be locked.

The capital projects levy will cost tax payers 90 cents per $1,000 assessed value.

“We’re very cognizant of our community and we want to keep a flat consistent tax rate while still continuing a sustainable and continued revenue source, so we can continue to offer the programs and opportunities that we have to expected to provide for our kids,” Shea said, adding that the tax rate for these levies will stay consistent.

The school district will hold two more information sessions in the next few weeks if anyone has questions. You can find more information here.