CK levy on April ballot, millions in funding on the line

Voters who decided in a slim majority to not approve the Feb. 13 Central Kitsap School District levy ask will return to the polls in April to vote once again, a deja vu moment for a district that narrowly avoided a double levy failure in 2022.

The original proposition for the three-year school support levy would have collected up to $23 million at an estimated rate of $1.50 per $1,000 assessed property value for 2025, 2026 and 2027. The tightly contested race ended with those in opposition to the measure tallying 8,438 (50.41%) no votes compared to 8,300 (49.59%) yes votes, a difference of just 138 votes.

Even before the final numbers for the recently completed special elections were run the morning of Feb. 23, a resolution adopted by the CKSD Board of Directors on Feb. 22 eyed a second attempt at the renewal of its levy funding.

An explanatory statement from CKSD states, “these taxes would be deposited into the District’s General Fund and used to pay for day-to-day school operations to meet student needs not funded by the state, including safety and security personnel, special education, sports and activities, and student supports.”

The new measure, similar to its predecessor, would collect $21 million in 2025, $22 million in 2026 and $23 million in 2027, with the estimated levy rate remaining at an estimated $1.50 per $1,000 assessed value.

CKSD faced similar challenges in 2022, taking its first loss at the ballot box in over two decades with a larger margin of 430 separating the no and yes votes. The two-year levy was run again by the district in April of that year, and it passes by 158 votes.

School districts are limited to running levy measures twice in a calendar year in Washington, and with its second failed measure in a span of three years, the district faces the possibility of millions of dollars lost beyond just the funding of the levy. District officials say that a second levy failure in 2024 would result in an estimated $29.6 million in losses: $21 million via the levy, $8 million in Heavy Impact Aid and another $600,000 in Local Effort Assistance.

The next special election will run April 23.