Tax measures discussed at forum

Levy will help pay substitute teachers; district needs around $148,000 more in budget



Diane Hodge, Finance Director for the Pullman School District, discussed 2020 bond and levy information to the Pullman League of Women Voters on Thursday at the Neill Public Library.

Kaitlyn Tejero , Evergreen reporter

The Pullman League of Women Voters hosted a public forum on Thursday to discuss a bond and two levies for the Pullman School District.

Diane Hodge, finance director for the Pullman School District, said the forum was for educational purposes and should not warrant any debate.

“I want to make it clear that it is my job to educate, not advocate,” she said.

Hodge said they are not fully funded by the state, but the state thinks they are. She said they are asking for votes on the bond and replacement levies to secure their funding.

“This bond will not cost you anything more than what you’re already paying in 2019, it’s official. This is really good news we can now tell our community,” she said.

Hodge said it would only cost residents eight cents more per thousand dollars.

“For example, if you own a $300,000 home, you would only be paying $24 more a year, which is equal to a couple Starbucks drinks,” she said.

Hodge said this is possible because the Capital Projects Advisory Committee focused on needs versus wants.

She said students are more likely to enjoy school if they are in a quality environment.

Lincoln Middle School has 691 students despite being designed to hold 350, she said. They project that there will be 717 students in 2024.

“They didn’t want us to put the terms ‘overcrowding’ or ‘student growth’ on the ballot, but I did anyway because people need to know it’s for overcrowding,” she said.

Community outreach coordinator Libby Walker said anyone who lives in Pullman and is paying attention could see this overcrowding would happen.

Hodge said the students have to conduct science labs in regular classrooms without sinks, which prevents them from doing certain parts of the curriculum.

The bond will add more bleachers, a common area and allow for two lunch periods instead of three, she said.

Hodge said the enrichment levy will help with anything student-related, such as paying substitute teachers.

“We have around $82,000 a year in the budget for substitute teachers but are spending around $230,000,” she said.

An audience member asked why the technology levy does not cost more, considering how fast technology changes.

“We have been building chrome carts for a while now, it’s just a matter of updating and replacing,” Hodge said. “Our goal is to have them last until 2024.”

She said the more Pullman grows, the less residents will pay.

Walker asked if there were any objections from parents regarding moving children from other schools into Kamiak Elementary School, the newest elementary school in the district.

“I want to say around early February parents could apply to send their kids there,” Hodge said. “Majority of kids went, I think one or two were denied.”

She said she has not heard any complaints regarding the bond.

“Our job here is also to remind everyone to vote. There is a link on our website to register to vote and you can contact our email and phone number as well,” she said.