Monday, March 4, 2024

Voters will decide fates of three EP&O levies

Brewster, Bridgeport, and Mansfield on ballots

Posted

BREWSTER – Educational programs and operations (EP&O) levies are on the line for three of four Quad City schools this month. Voters are casting ballots to support or oppose the four-year measures for Brewster, Bridgeport, and Mansfield high schools. All three levies are replacements of previously approved by voters in 2020. Ballots must be returned by Feb. 13. 

Mansfield

Mansfield’s four-year $200,000 levy will replace the existing levy, which expires on Dec. 31, 2024. The new levy rate will be approximately $2 per $1,000 in assessed property value. The expiring 2020 levy was advertised as $2.29 per $1,000 in assessed property value. 

“This rate averaged $2.09 per $1,000 due to an increase in assessed property values,” a statement on the Mansfield school district site (mansfield.wednet.edu) said. “When property rates increase, the price per thousand fluctuates, but the amount of collected levy funds is fixed at $200,000.”

The state legislature has limited the amount that districts can solicit through the EP&O levy process to $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. This has forced many school districts to run specialized levies in areas such as technology, transportation, and capital projects.

Bridgeport

Bridgeport has a good record of levy support for funding measures the school brings before voters. Its previous 2020 levy passed by 55.5 percent. Four years earlier, its 2016 measure received 61 percent support.

The proposed replacement levy of approximately $360,000 will be collected in 2025, 2026, 2027, and 2028. Collection will not begin until the current levy ends in 2024. 

In his January newsletter, Superintendent Scott Sattler noted that the four-year levy was chosen for two basic reasons.

  1. Each time a levy is run, it costs the district in excess of $6,000.
  2. The fact that the second, third, and fourth year of the levy is the same, $1.69 per thousand, should help assure the voters that the rate will not be increased for collection throughout the four years.

“Bridgeport will receive $1,200,000 per year in levy equalization should the levy pass,” wrote Sattler. “Levy equalization dollars are not available if the levy fails.”

In his newsletter, Sattler announced the first construction planning meeting for remodeling the elementary school. 

“We have remodeling dollars to remodel the main building of the elementary school ($6 million),” wrote Sattler. “We are currently chasing more dollars that could potentially replace all the portable buildings (A, B, C, and D buildings).” 

Sattler added that construction of the high school and animal barn is underway. 

“As for now, we should be able to take occupancy at the end of October 2024,” wrote Sattler. “This means we will plan for starting the 2024-25 school year as we are, with a transition into our new high school in October. Keep in mind this is tentative, and things could change.”

Brewster

“Levy dollars play a pivotal role in sustaining vital aspects of our educational system, from supporting sports programs and the band to ensuring adequate resources for Special Education,” wrote Superintendent Lynette Blackburn on the school website, brewsterbears.org. “These funds also contribute to reducing class sizes, fostering extracurricular activities, advancing technology in classrooms, and maintaining essential facilities.”

EP&O funds represent about 11% of the district's overall budget. The breakdown of those funds shows:

  • 11 percent ($170.077) for special education.
  • 14 percent ($216,462) for support services.
  • 75 percent ($1,159,616) for regular instruction.

The levy funds the entirety of the district’s general fund spending on athletics and activities; the

district’s student supervision and security staff and helps pay for staff in every school building in the district.

The current figures show that Brewster district’s total tax rate - including the replacement levy and bonds - will be lower than in 2023.

EP&O: $2.40 (2023) $2.25 (2025)

Bond: $2.01 (2023) $1.72 (2025)

Mike Maltais: 360-333-8483 or michael@ward.media

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