Ask local residents why they moved to Camas or have continued to live in this area for years, and it’s likely that the city’s high quality public school system would be on the list. And, it’s not difficult to see why.
Camas students in all grade levels continue to score high on state assessment tests, and excel in programs ranging from athletics to academic competitions. Programming is not a one-size-fits-all cookie cutter approach to learning. It addresses students’ strengths through programs like the Math, Science and Technology Magnet, as well as their struggles with manageable student-to-teacher ratios, an alternative school, and specialized instruction for children with special needs.
Much of this has been made possible through funding generated by voter approved levies. Specifically, maintenance and operations and technology levies — both of which are up for renewal as part of the Feb. 12 Special Election.
The maintenance & operations levy alone funds roughly 20 percent of the school district’s annual budget — the portion that state funding just doesn’t cover. These monies support aspects of a Camas education that are truly invaluable to students. It allows for smaller class sizes that create better learning environments for all students and also funds a school resource officer, school security systems, drug and alcohol intervention programs and anti-bullying efforts.
In addition, the money supports extra-curricular activities ranging from athletics and drama productions to band, Knowledge Bowl and Science Olympiad. Levy funding also goes to programs like middle school honors classes and elementary school highly capable instruction. School libraries also benefit from the levy funding that pays for staff, books, curriculum and reference materials. And the list goes on, and on, and on.
With the proposed school levies, during their four-year run $48.2 million will be collected for maintenance & operations, and $5.27 million will be collected for technology. For the technology levy, property owners would pay 38 cents per $1,000 of assessed value from 2014 to 2017. And for the maintenance & operations levy, the cost would be $3.41 in 2014, $3.48 in 2015, $3.53 in 2016 and $3.61 in 2017.
This year’s levies come with an added bonus. While the proposed maintenance & operations levy rate is slightly higher than the previous levy, the district has refinanced older bonds. This caused the rate for repayments to be reduced and taxpayers will in return see a decrease in the total combined rates for all school taxes beginning in 2014.
The funding for these levies has helped create the Camas School District that has become known throughout the county and even the state for its high levels of achievement and success. To put it bluntly, many of the districts core programs, services and learning tools just would not be possible without this money that taxpayers have so generously provided over the years.
Elected officials, district administrators, teachers, and other educators distributed and used this levy funding wisely over the years. There is no reason not to support these two levies that are critical components to high quality public education system.
Vote ‘yes’ on Camas School District Propositions 1 and 2.
— Heather Acheson