The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

School board acts on levy language


November 29, 2018

The Wahkiakum School District Board of Directors last Tuesday learned about state and federal programs, talked about food services, and passed a resolution that could potentially increase their budget if property values rise.

Superintendent Brent Freeman said that he had received a communication from ESD 112 suggesting that the district approve a resolution to change some language that currently limits access to levy funds agreed upon by local voters.

Last year, voters passed a levy of $2.38 per $1,000 assessed home value to support the district, totaling $997,000 per year for four years. After Washington State legislators passed the McCleary Act, levies for school districts were capped at $1.50 per $1,000 assessed home values, which greatly reduced the amount of money the district could collect to support school programs.

Because of the decrease, the district adopted a budget that “included certified General Fund educational programs and operation excess property taxes in the amount of $610,144 to be levied in 2018 and collected in 2019,” according to the document.

The district had expected to receive about $660,000, according to Freeman, but with declining property values, they lost another $50,000.

Freeman said the resolution would change some language and allow the district to access a bigger portion of the $997,000 that voters agreed upon, if assessed values happen to go up, while still limiting them to $1.50 per $1,000 assessed value.

“If they went up 10 percent,” Freeman said, “that would be another $61,000 available to the district.”

The directors agreed and passed the resolution.

Principals Stephanie Leitz and Nikki Reese gave a comprehensive report on how the school implements state and federal programs, including:

• Title I, which provides financial assistance to schools with high percentages of children from low income families and helps pay for free and reduced lunch;

• LAP, which “offers supplemental services for K-12 students scoring below grade-level standards in English Language Arts and mathematics;”

• ELL, which helps students whose first language is not English become proficient in English;

• and Highly Capable, for students who have the capacity to perform at advanced academic levels. There are currently 16 highly capable students at WSD, though the district only started testing a few years ago.

During the Superintendent’s report, Freeman addressed the food service program at the district.

The school spent $226,000 for the program last year.

“We generated enough revenue for about $160,000 of that, but had to take the other $60,000 out of district coffers,” Freeman said.

On average, the district feeds about 250 students per day. Around 320 students qualify for free and reduced lunch.

The district receives four food deliveries a week, which Freeman says is due to inadequate food storage.

“We have one walk in freezer for the entire district, Freeman said. “We’ve got a refrigerator down at the grade school that belongs in a museum.”

Older appliances also mean higher utility costs.

“This is a lousy place to be cooking for kids,” Freeman said. “We don’t have an adequate kitchen at the high school. All the food is prepared at the grade school, which has a marginally inadequate kitchen for a school our size, especially to be doing multi-building serving. Having to bring it up here is not an ideal fit.”

Students at the high school currently use a lunchroom that can accommodate about 40 students at a time.

“I think with what we’ve got, we’re doing a great job. We haven’t failed a health inspection in years. We haven’t had a finding in an audit in years,” Freeman said.

“We’re going to have to do better,” he added.


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