19th District Lawmakers

From left: Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, Sen. Dean Takko, D-Longview and Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen stand outside of the Capitol in Olympia - Photo by Sean Harding, WNPA Olympia News Bureau

Reps. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, and Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, of the 19th Legislative District have sponsored a House bill that addresses the inequity of the current school district levy and Local Effort Assistance (LEA) structure designed to provide additional levy support to property poor school districts.

Under the bill, local school districts that would likely receive additional LEA funding under the proposal include Aberdeen, Cosmopolis, Elma, Hoquiam, McCleary, Montesano, Oakville, Satsop, Taholah, Willapa Valley and Wishkah Valley.

For tax year 2020, 61 districts that have relatively high property values will generate $2,570 per student, compared to less than $2,000 per student in 130 districts that have relatively low property values, according to the Aberdeen school district.

“LEA is a calculation of a district’s ability to generate $1,500 per student at a tax rate of $1.50/1,000. Districts falling below the $1,500 level per student are eligible for LEA,” the district said.

House Bill 2237 and its companion Senate Bill 6075 sponsored by Sen. Dean Takko, D-Longview, would make the following changes to the state LEA thresholds:

• Over a 4-year period, it increases LEA to a $2.50/1,000 levy and a $2,500 threshold per student. For qualifying LEA districts with a levy that fails to reach the $2.50/1,000 levy level, their LEA is reduced. The reduced LEA is calculated based upon the ratio of their actual rate/$2.50 rate

• Provides a hold harmless for districts that would receive less LEA due to the formula change

The change would affect the 2021 local tax year and the 2020-21 state budget year.

“I have been pushing dang hard. It’s interesting how education dollars are so political. It’s like learning how sausage is made. I’m not ready to give up, I’m still pushing, but we are looking at the home stretch here to try to get something in there,” said Aberdeen Superintendent Alicia Henderson.

“The original proposal would have given our district about $1 million next year,” she said.

The revised proposal would provide about $200,000 for Aberdeen schools, she added.

The proposal calls for a four-year implementation plan. In 2020-21, with a LEA threshold of $1,700, a projection based on the OSPI projected 2021 levies would increase the state’s LEA cost to approximately $7 million, according to the district.

With the four-year plan, districts would have the assurance to be able to budget for it, said Henderson.

Henderson said she discussed the legislation with the governor during his visit to the Harbor.

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