The Mead School District is one of 14 districts in Spokane County asking patrons to renew its regular maintenance-and-operations levy in February.
The district was one of the first in the county to send students back to the classroom in the Covid era.
Mead Superintendent Shawn Woodward says he’s proud that his district has had elementary school students attending class in-person since mid-September. Middle and high school students have two days a week in class and learn remotely the rest of the time. The costs of keeping everyone safe are high.
“With personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, et cetera, we’re looking at, probably, the difference between what we’re reimbursed and what we’re spending is close to a million dollars," he said.
Woodward says the district has collected some federal pandemic money and hopes to receive more soon to give a tight budget a little extra breathing room.
With that in mind, plus all the financial uncertainty associated with the recent changes in how Washington funds public schools, Woodward sees this levy request as crucial.
“We’re not sure what’s going to happen over the next couple of years with funding from both the federal and the state level. So this would give us at least a degree of predictability by passing this levy," he said.
For the last three years, Mead’s patrons, in their property taxes, have paid about $1.50 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. For the next three years, the district’s board voted to try to bump that to $2.00, which is less than the $2.50 maximum the state would allow.
“They were really thinking about the context of the local and state economy and we’re concerned about that. So we went up about as high as we thought we could go and still be able to maintain the kind of services that people are used to for our kids," Woodward said.
February 9 is the deadline for Mead patrons to return their ballots in person or to get them in the mail.