“It was explaining how a levy works, when a levy would be put out to the district, how it would what it would cost, what it might be able to fund, and that was really for us, but also for the community because ultimately the community is the people that we’re going to be going to,” said Bend-La Pine School Board Chair Melissa Barnes Dholokia.
“One of the things that this process is going to do is look at what is most important for this community and what do they want to see in our schools, and what are they willing to fund with a local option levy,” said Dholakia.
This levy may be used to help fund day-to-day operations of the school district, such as staff, programs, and services, that are either not supported or not fully funded by the state’s formula revenue.
“Eighty-five percent of our general budget is our people. And so when we talk, almost inevitably when we talk about adding resources in the district, we’re talking about adding staffing or increasing salaries of staff that we’re seeing a lot of transition or a lot of turnover,” said Superintendent Steven Cook.
The local option levy is separate from construction bonds that voters may approve to fund infrastructure projects, such as building new schools, renovating existing schools, buying buses or upgrading technology.
“Bonds are for buildings and levies are for learning. And so we passed bonds, but that 100% goes into the capital infrastructure of our buildings,” Dholakia said. ‘The levies fund other things. They fund things like class size. They something fund things like on specific programs and electives.”
Later this fall, the district will discuss levy rates and priorities, picking an election date and the public engagement process.
“Next, we’ll come back, and we’ll come back with our district’s honed-in strategic initiatives,” Dholakia said. “What are the things we’re hearing our district needs to do next? That we need additional resources and able to make come true?”
A local option levy may be approved for up to five years, either as a rate-based levy or a fixed amount.