The fate of a proposed new elementary school in Naches once again rests with local voters. The Naches Valley School District is placing a 25-year, $23 million bond measure on the Feb. 11 special election ballot to build an elementary school. Along with this bond measure, several other school districts in Yakima County are asking for new or replacement levies, as current ones will expire next year. Naches Valley , which encompasses Naches and Gleed, has long sought a new primary school. A $19.8 million bond measure failed last year with 58 percent of the vote, shy of the 60 percent required for bond measures to pass. The district's $5.33 million , two-year levy passed easily with 64 percent of the vote. Levy and bond rates are collected per $1,000 of assessed property value. This year's proposal would cost taxpayers about $24.25 a month for a $150,000 home. Superintendent Duane Lyons said he believes this proposal is more focused than last time and that support may finally surpass the 60 percent mark required for passage. Much like last year, the district held public forums to gather input. Yet again, residents overwhelmingly want the school in Naches than Gleed. But this time, the district has chosen its property parcel. The site in question is located just north of U.S. Highway 12 and west of Allan Road . The school will replace both the primary and intermediary schools for kindergarten through fourth grade. And early estimates put the school at 63,000 square feet for about 600 students. "We do have a much clearer picture of what we want to build there," Lyons said, adding that an architect is already underway in designing the first plans for the elementary school. Naches Valley is also looking to replace its current two-year maintenance and operations levy with another one of the same length. The proposed levy would cost homeowners the same as the previous one - about $44.50 per month for a $150,000 house. Nine of 15 school districts in Yakima County are asking voters for replacement levies - some asking for increases. Zillah is asking for two levies - a maintenance and operation levy and a capital levy - with a combined rate of $2.44 per $1,000 in assessed value, up from the current rate of $2.22 . A capital levy is similar to a M&O levy in that it is a tax on property and needs 50 percent approval of registered voters. The difference is funds raised in a capital levy must be spent on capital needs. Zillah proposes to spend the money on technology and security. The East Valley School District will be asking voters to approve a four-year levy. For the first two years, the district would freeze the current rates but increase them by 2 percent each of the following two years. Wapato homeowners will in time see their rates go up. Under the board's proposal, the rate would stay near $1.70 for 2015 and 2016 but then increase to $1.84 in 2017 and $1.80 for 2018. Wapato is a beneficiary of the state's levy equalization funds, which matches up to four times every tax dollar because of the district's property- poor status. Wapato is asking for a four-year M&O levy, which officials believe offers more security for longer-term projects than a two- year levy, said district spokesman Mike Balmelli . Others plan on keeping the status quo. While the levy in Union Gap is set to expire, the school board is asking for a similar tax rate come February. The levy would generate just shy of $1 million in 2014 and 2015, exactly like this year and last year. And in West Valley , officials are calling for a four-year replacement operating levy that would generate $6.9 million over each of those years. The rate would be $2.90 for every $1,000 in assessed value, a slight drop from the current $2.93 rate. Levies generally help pay for buses, security, books, utilities and other programs. Unlike a bond, a levy can pass with a simple majority. Other school districts in the county that will be pushing for a replacement levy include Grandview , Highland and Mt. Adams.
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