Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Cashmere residents vote to support schools in special election

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CASHMERE – Cashmere voters turned out in support of Cashmere schools, with 71.22% of voters casting their ballots in favor of the replacement levy.

Of the 1,501 who voted on the Feb. 13 special election, 1,069 voters were in favor of the levy, and 432 or 28.78% voted against it.

"This levy was about sustaining the programs we currently have for our students," school board member Aaron Bessonette said. "The old levy is expiring, and we needed to renew the source of funds to keep moving ahead. I am extremely grateful to our voters and their support to get this passed."

 

The Educational Programs and Operations or EP&O Levy helps to pay for things that are not funded or are underfunded by the state.

With approval of the EP&O Levy, the district will receive an additional $1.1 million in state funding.

A school levy is a community-based funding initiative designed to support student-centered programs, services, and staffing that state and federal funds may not fully cover.

"Levies support learning, essentially," school board member Aaron Bessonette said. "It's kind of the easy way to remember that levies support learning and bonds support buildings, right, you know, for construction and things."

Levy funds are used to support a lot of different programs in the schools, such as special education, arts, drama, music, athletics, and even the district's safety and security programs. They also help pay for textbooks, supplies, curriculum, and more.

"A great community and a productive school district is a symbiotic relationship," Bessonette said. "Especially in a small town, it's very difficult to have one without the other. This continues to be a big reason why people want to live and raise their kids in Cashmere. And many community members that made the same decision a long time ago continue to support our schools and the kids we currently serve."

"I am happy for our students, and I'm extremely proud of the Cashmere community," he said. "Go, Bulldogs!"

The projected tax rate for the EP&O levy replacement is $2.10 per thousand assessed value. This represents a 7¢ increase from the 2024 rate, resulting in a yearly rise of $38 for a $400K homeowner. Concurrently, existing bond tax rates are decreasing, leading to a reduction in total school taxes compared to previous years.

Cashmere School District Superintendent Glenn Johnson said the district chose to flatline the cost of the levy for the four years with a consistent rate of $2.10 per thousand assessed value. The state maximum is $2.50. 

"For the four years, we at the board felt it was very important to have consistency," Johnson said. 

"So we did not run this thing up to the max," Johnson said. "We felt like it was best to be conservative."

The 7¢ increase is to cover the cost of inflation, Johnson said.

"We want to be mindful of our community members and basically just asked for the amount that we feel is going to be able to keep us where we're at, and that's just, you know, the reality of it," Bessonette said. "We're trying to be mindful and good stewards of our community's taxpayer's money." 

Election results will be certified on Feb. 23.



Quinn Propst: 509-731-3590 or quinn@ward.media.

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