Riverview board presents multiple levies for consideration

CARNATION _ The Riverview School District will ask voters to

support three two-year levies next year. The Board of Directors

unanimously approved a $7.4 million Maintenance and Operation (M & O)

replacement levy, a $1 million technology levy and a $210,000 Performing Arts

Center (PAC) levy for placement on the Feb. 29 ballot.

The board has been discussing its election options since early

October and the decision to place the M & O on the ballot _ which provides 20

percent of the total General Fund budget _ was made without hesitation.

The levy supports educational programs not funded by the state such as

additional teachers, extra-curricular programs and transportation. The

other issues, including the possibility of an athletic fields bond, however,

required more consideration.

"The amount and timing [of a fields measure] is crucial,"

said Cedarcrest Principal Clarence Lavarias. "We want to show the

community we're not begging, but scaling back to a bare bones minimum."

"We don't want to compete with the M & O or the tech levy and

performing arts. We need more time," he added.

In the meantime, supporters will be seeking out grant money to pay

for smaller projects related to the anticipated fields such as a press box

and concession stand. While the fields issue won't be decided in February,

officials said it is almost guaranteed that a bond will be presented sometime

in 2000.

"My biggest concern in delaying the fields is that we must make

sure the community knows it's a delay and we are coming back and asking for

it," said board President Laura Ritter.

Preliminary amounts for the field bond range from $2.1 million to

$3.7 million, depending on which variation of the plan the board chooses. The

proposal includes field upgrades, new equipment, a multi-purpose

field, parking lot, bleachers and more.

Previous attempts at passing an athletic fields bond have been

unsuccessful, so Athletic Director Josh Garcia wants to make sure the

proposal is well planned.

"It didn't pass four times and it'd be pretty traumatic if it doesn't

pass again," he said.

The opportunity to bring technology into the schools won't have to

wait because a scaled-down version of the original $3.9 million, six-year

technology levy will get a second chance on the ballot. This time, voters will

be asked to support a two-year, $1 million levy which will provide a

new phone system, a computer in each classroom, staff training and

updated computer labs.

"I think it's a great plan and one that's not fluff or a Cadillac," said

Paul Censullo, the district's technology director. "And it is certainly a good

step in the direction we need to go."

He estimates that this levy will provide a good foundation for

the district's technology needs. But the funding would probably need to

be supplemented in the next three to five years to add more computers to

the schools. However, that shouldn't be a very expensive proposition,

Censullo said.

"We want to prove to the voters that we are doing good things

within the next several years," he commented. "We'll probably [ask for]

lesser amounts."

Another area of the district that has been inadequately funded

is Cedarcrest's Performing Arts Center, said drama teacher Karen King.

A $210,000 PAC levy will make its grand debut on the ballot next

year which will fund essential items for the theater.

The levy will provide stage rigging and draperies, a projection

screen, lighting devices and storage. The Duvall Arts Commission is also

applying for grants to enhance the facility since they often host

performances at the center.

Though the PAC levy asks for a relatively small amount, some

board members were wary of placing it on the February ballot.

"I want to see the Performing Arts Center completed, but February is

not the best time," Ritter said. "I'm

afraid of putting too many things in February, but I won't work against

my board."

"We had tons and tons of discussion on technology and fields,"

board member Carol Van Noy added. "We had discussions [about the PAC]

in years past, but we didn't have the detail of discussion like the others."

Even a representative from the Duvall Arts Commission was

apprehensive of running the levy so soon.

"We almost don't want to go in February," said Carolyn Butler.

"We need time to get a campaign going." But the group will only have

several weeks to solicit their request because the board unanimously voted to

run the levy in two months.

"It's an important part of the education program," said board

member Steve Hallstrom. "Arts have proven to enhance student learning."

If all three measures are approved, a homeowner with a house

assessed at $200,000 could expect to pay approximately $2.95 ($2.52 for the

M & O, 36 cents for technology and 7 cents for the arts center) per

$1,000 of assessed value, or $590 in 2001.

For more information about the February election and the levy

requests, call the Riverview School District at (425) 333-4115.

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