Ridgefield schools to run replacement levy in August election

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The Ridgefield School District has put a replacement levy on the August ballot to help fund a variety of its operations.

If approved by a majority of voters in the district, the levy is projected to be the same $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value as the rate of the district’s current levy, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

The existing levy makes up about 13.3% of the district’s annual operating budget, RSD Board President Joe Vance said. Superintendent Nathan McCann said the money helps fund extracurricular activities, the district’s Cispus outdoor school for fifth graders, and its ability to staff beyond what the state’s prototypical model funds. It also pays for professional development, community education, the district’s family resource center, classroom technology and special education, he added.

“The levy touches nearly every aspect of the district’s operations as they impact students’ experiences,” McCann said.

The $1.50 tax rate would be among the lowest levy rates in Clark County. Vance noted Ridgefield does not have a technology levy like some of the other districts in the county.

If approved, the levy would collect about $9,054,000 in 2023, $10,412,000 in 2024 and $11,611,000 in 2025.

McCann said the district made a pledge to hold the levy’s rate at $1.50 per $1,000 if the certified taxing authority led to a higher rate.

Vance said the $1.50 rate is at the level the district needs to continue its current operations.

“It’s one thing to do more with less, but you need the less to do the more. You can’t have nothing,” Vance said.

The last time the district ran a levy replacement in 2019 it passed with about 57.5% of the vote. The district recently proposed a $62.6 million construction bond to build a new elementary school and expand the high school. In February of this year, the bond received roughly a 57.5% approval rating, and in April, 59% of voters cast ballots in favor of the measure, though a bond requires a supermajority greater than 60% to pass. The levy only requires a simple majority of more than 50%.



“Even though … the bond is not related to the levy, the fact the community came out in support at 59%, does that tell me we would be at 50% plus one? I’m optimistic that would be the case,” Vance said. “They’re two separate things, but they both relate to support of the schools.”

The district currently doesn’t have any set plans for cuts if the levy fails.

“If your income … was to drop by 13%, for many of us we might still be able to exist. We might still be able to pay for the absolute necessities,” McCann said.

Student experiences in things like performing arts, sports or competitions like the district’s recent National Knowledge Bowl success would not be possible without the support from the levy, McCann said.

Ridgefield would have the opportunity to re-run the levy in November if it fails in August.

Vance said he couldn’t recall a levy failure in his 25 years in the area. He felt a failure would be an indictment of the district residents’ support of RSD’s motto of “pursuing premier.”

“If Ridgefield can’t pass a replacement levy at a rate that’s the lowest rate in the county, then Ridgefield has bigger problems than just the failure to run different programs,” Vance said.

Vance said Ridgefield’s schools have appeared at the top of surveys that asked new residents why they decided to move to the area.

“That’s not going to be the number-one thing on the list if you can’t pass a levy,” Vance said.

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