Elma School District’s Board of Directors passed a resolution at their Dec. 13 meeting on a special election to be held on Feb. 13. The election is for the district’s voters to consider a two-year tax levy commencing in 2018. The district aims to collect $2,514,435 annually based on $3.15 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The levy funds are to be used for educational programs and operation costs.
Acuff said recent changes to the educational funding model made by the state Legislature have proved difficult for the district to grapple with.“Our extracurricular budgets have been pushed to the limit,” Acuff said.
The district’s levy committee, Acuff continued, has recommended that the district’s extracurricular programs be allocated $650,000 for next year and that levy-funded technology curriculum be allocated $350,000.
For 2019-20, the levy committee recommends $817,000 be set aside for salaries not funded by the state, he said.
“When (the Legislature) changed the law, one of the things they did is that you can no longer pay salaries out of the levy that are funded by the state,” Acuff explained. “So if the state is funding that teacher or that principal, you cannot pay part of their salary out of the levy. That has been made illegal, so it is very important that you distinguish between the salaries that are funded and those that aren’t.”
“We’ve identified $817,000 in salaries not funded by the state, and those will be paid out of the levy going forward,” he added. Acuff went on to remark that next year and the years following will be very different for the district in terms of how its funding operates.
• The board voted to allow Elma Middle School to hold a metal sign art contest to provide signage for the middle school. The FFA-sponsored contest begins Jan. 8 with designs due by Jan. 22. The high school’s metal shop will create the sign based on the winning art. The sign will be placed on top of the middle school gym and potentially be lighted. The contest is open to Elma Middle School students.
• Elma High School was recently named a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Lighthouse School, which includes a $20,000 grant. Acuff stated that the distinction is recognition by the state that Elma High School is a school that other’s should seek to emulate.
• East Grays Harbor High School has been designated a “school of distinction” for the second year in a row by the state, Acuff reported. The designation is based partly on graduation rate, which the school has significantly improved over the past several years.
• Board members Larry Bridenbaack and Teresa Boling were sworn in. Rick Gravatt was unable to attend the meeting and will be sworn in at a future meeting. Boling and Gravatt ran unopposed in November’s election while Bridenbaack defeated Chad Searls to retain his seat. All three ran as incumbents. Because of Gravatt’s absence, the board voted to table the election of officers until the board’s next meeting.