Signs against Vancouver Public Schools levy grab attention

Though the fog of the November 2022 common election has cleared, some voters in Clark County will return to the polls to resolve on a handful of native measures in a Feb. 14 particular election.

Among the measures on the upcoming poll is a replacement education and operations levy for Vancouver Public Schools, the second-largest public college district in Southwest Washington.

It’s that measure that has prompted the development of a handful of “Vote No” indicators throughout Clark County, asking voters to oppose the levy and highlighting low check scores and a handful of different inside points, together with an in-school fentanyl overdose within the spring and an ongoing voyeurism case.

The proposed three-year levy shouldn’t be a brand new tax. Rather, it might substitute the district’s present schooling and operations levies after they’re set to run out on Dec. 31 of this 12 months. Vancouver Public Schools last passed such a measure in 2020.

Like in all college districts in Clark County, and all through a lot of the state, the proposed levy would proceed to assist packages not absolutely funded by the state, particularly extracurricular actions like athletics, music and drama packages, in addition to counseling and nursing positions and the district’s assortment of Family-Community Resource Centers. District officers estimate that levy {dollars} account for 12.5 % of their annual working price range.

“Without native levy funding, these packages would should be eradicated or closely lowered,” stated district spokesperson Jessica Roberts.

The charge would tax residents inside Vancouver Public Schools boundaries an estimated $1.99 per $1,000 assessed property worth beginning in 2024. That charge is similar to the mixed charge of the 2 expiring levies, which collected $2.01 per $1,000 assessed property worth in 2020 and can expire on Dec. 31, in line with the district.

Who’s behind the indicators?

The indicators — which have been paid for by People United for Clark County, a neighborhood right-wing political motion committee — chastise the district’s poor standardized check scores and a handful of ongoing scandals.

According to 1 sponsor of the “Vote No” indicators, nevertheless, it’s the proposed tax charge that’s compelling a gaggle to dissuade voters in approving the measure.

“We’re paying sufficient,” stated Cemal Richards, one of many names listed as a sponsor on the indicators. Richards just lately served as a Republican member of the Clark County Redistricting Committee final 12 months. “How a lot cash are you able to ask for? The approach to clear up issues isn’t all the time by elevating taxes.”

Richards, who stated he lives in Vancouver’s Maplewood neighborhood, stated he doesn’t have children of his personal within the district however heard his neighbors voicing frustration concerning the proposed measure.

Other sponsors listed on the indicators embody Richards’ fellow Republican Redistricting Committee member Juan Gamboa, Anna Miller, David Douglas and John Ley.

Ley ran for a state consultant place in Washington’s 18th Legislative district final 12 months till a Clark County Superior Court choose dominated him ineligible, discovering that he had lied about his home address with a view to file for candidacy within the race. In August, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office opened a perjury investigation relating to the false deal with.

The deal with Ley initially used to file his candidacy was situated in Battle Ground and doesn’t fall inside Vancouver Public Schools’ district boundaries. Ley informed The Columbian on Tuesday that he does, the truth is, reside throughout the district’s boundaries, however that he hasn’t but “finished his homework” on tips on how to vote on the Vancouver colleges measure.

Roberts, the district spokesperson, stated Tuesday that the district is conscious of the “Vote No” marketing campaign.

“We recognize the monetary burdens that individuals could also be experiencing, and we understand there are issues concerning the quantity of taxes folks pay,” Roberts stated. “With these issues in thoughts, the board adopted a decision that will preserve the same charge because the earlier schooling and operations levy and would nonetheless enable us to keep up current packages and providers regardless of rising wants and prices.”

Signs asking folks to “Vote Yes” have additionally popped up on the town, with a number of of them outdoors City Hall by the Vancouver waterfront. Those indicators have been put up by the Citizens’ Committee for Good Schools, a pro-levy volunteer group now led by former Community Foundation for Southwest Washington president Jennifer Rhoades.

“In operating a sure marketing campaign, we’re all the time going to give attention to all the good work of VPS. There’s important areas of this district which can be funded by the alternative levy,” Rhoades stated. “All the extracurricular experiences that assist make college extra significant? They’re one hundred pc funded by the alternative levy. School isn’t nearly studying tips on how to learn and do math issues; it’s about all of the experiences of rising up.”

Ballots for the Feb. 14 particular election are anticipated to be despatched out on Jan. 27. For extra data on the small print of the proposed levy measure, go to Vancouver Public Schools’ web site at

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