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LONGVIEW SCHOOLS

Longview survey finds high community support for replacement levy

Longview levy rates

The Longview School District is exploring options to replace an expiring capital projects and technology levy.

About 71% of surveyed community members support a replacement capital and technology levy for the Longview School District, according to a new district survey. About 15% opposed it, and the rest were unsure.

The survey results of 300 randomly selected community members were presented at Monday night’s board meeting. The telephone survey was done by Portland-based Riley Research Associates.

District spokesman Rick Parrish said most people who did not support the levy were concerned about taxes.

Survey takers were asked to rate how important certain focuses were to them. It was most important taxes not increase and improvements were made at all schools.

Longview School District explores replacement levy to do more capital projects

Next in line of importance was making improvements in security and safety; fixing roofs, floors, plumbing and electrical; updating career and technical education; updating classroom technology; purchasing new laptops every five years; upgrading computer systems; and then upgrading sports and facilities.

Parrish noted while sports was ranked last with 58% saying it was very important, in 2019 only 32% of respondents ranked it as very important.

Looking at demographics, 62% of senior citizens surveyed were supportive of the replacement levy and in the 18- to 34-year-old age range there was 84% support.

Board member Barb Westrick said she understands seniors often are on a fixed income which is important for the board to realize in levy discussions.

Women tended to be more supportive than men, with 73% in support versus 68%, and people with children currently in the schools were more supportive than those who never had children in the district or those who had children in the school system in the past.

People who attended Longview schools themselves also were more supportive than those who did not, with 80% in support versus 64%.

One question asked respondents to give the district a grade from A to F. More people gave the district a score of A or B than in a similar 2019 survey, with 53% giving the district one of those two grades in 2021 and 48% doing so in 2019.

Longview School Board approves replacement capital and technology levy timeline

People also were asked if their opinion of the district improved, stayed the same, declined or if they were unsure. Only 3% said their opinion had improved, compared to 12% in 2019, and there was a large jump in those who said they were unsure, from 1% to 14%.

Parrish said he attributes the jump in unsure respondents to the pandemic.

Respondents also were asked to grade the district on a series of actions. The district shared percentages of those who gave the district A or B grades.

For informing the community, 51% gave the district an A or B, while 35% gave the district an A or B for getting parents and community involved.

The percentage who gave the district an A or B in providing a quality education for children dropped from 54% in 2019 to 51% in 2021, while 47% of people gave the district an A or B in maintaining facilities. That’s higher than the 24% who did the same in 2019.

The board also honored outgoing board member CJ Nickerson, who did not run for a third term. Nickerson first joined the board in 2013 and had perfect attendance, Longview Public Schools Superintendent Dan Zorn said.

Nickerson served as a legislative representative and on the Finance, Facilities and Technology Committee, the Leadership and Learning subcommittee, the Strategic Plan Review Committee, the Human Resource Committee, as the board liaison to the Longview City Council and the Wellness Committee, and as the board president for four years.

At the meeting, he was appointed to the Strategic Plan Review Committee as a citizen. Custodian LeeAnn Bolton also was appointed to serve a three-year term representing the Service Employees International Union.

Longview school board passes budget, hears teacher concerns over vaccines

“C.J. Nickerson was the driving force behind eliminating student fees that could prevent students from fully participating in sports and extracurricular activities to ensure all students have equal access to these opportunities,” the district’s proclamation said.

Zorn thanked Nickerson for his “leadership and guidance,” while Westrick said he has “just been an outstanding board member and a very good friend and I will miss him greatly.”

Board Vice President Jennifer Leach praised Nickerson’s energy, high level of integrity and level of respect, while Crystal Moldenhauer thanked him for helping her come out of her shell after she joined the board.

“You taught me to adequately discuss opposing topics and I will greatly miss that,” Moldenhauer said.

Nickerson thanked his fellow board members, staff and voters for a “rewarding bookend for my career in education.”

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