Levy Q & A
Prop 1 & 2: Levy Q&A
- What’s on the ballot?
Propositions 1 and 2 would renew expiring levies approved by voters in 2014.
- Proposition 1 is the Replacement Educational Programs and Operation Levy that supports student success by funding day-to-day operations.
- Proposition 2 is the Replacement Instructional Technology Improvements Levy to ensure students and teachers have access to technology and training, and that students are prepared for the future.
- What’s funded by Proposition 1 and 2?
- Proposition 1: Replacement Educational Programs and Operation Levy helps fund:
- Health, safety and security
- Operations, maintenance, grounds, utilities
- Student transportation
- Teachers, paraeducators, nurses, librarians, counselors, support personnel
- Instructional materials and supplies
- Arts, music, theater
- Extracurricular activities and athletics
- Special education programs
- Staff training and development
- Proposition 2: Replacement Instructional Technology Improvements Levy helps fund:
- Maintenance of 1:1 digital device ratio: Provides every student equitable access to technology with Chromebooks that enhance learning and prepares students for the careers of tomorrow.
- Technical support and training: Offers best practices in technology integration for teachers to deliver relevant and personalized learning experiences for every student.
- Secure and reliable operations: Improves and maintains operations, infrastructure, licenses and internet access for students and teachers; expanded wireless network.
- How much will the Replacement Educational Programs & Operation Levy cost?
If approved by voters, the two-year Replacement Educational Programs & Operation Levy amount of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value will generate up to:
- $20 million in 2019 ($1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
- $24 million in 2020 ($1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
For a property owner with an assessed value of $300,000, this equals approximately $450 annually, or $37.50 a month.
- How much will the Replacement Instructional Technology Improvements Levy cost?
If approved by voters, the six-year Replacement Instructional Technology Improvements Levy will average a rate of $0.47 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
- $5.2 million in 2019 (estimated $0.60 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
- $5.8 million in 2020 (estimated $0.60 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
- $5.8 million in 2021 (estimated $0.55 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
- $5.2 million in 2022 (estimated $0.45 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
- $4 million in 2023 (estimated $0.31 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
- $4 million in 2024 (estimated $0.28 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
For a property owner with an assessed value of $300,000, the average rate would equal approximately $141 annually, or $11.75 a month.
- Are these new taxes?
No. These levies replace the current levies which expire in 2018.
- How are tax amounts determined for property owners?
Each property owner pays a different amount of taxes because the assessed value for each property is different. Sumner School District can only collect the amount approved by voters—no matter how much assessed values increase. As more people move into the district boundary, more property owners contribute to the total levy amount. This means that each property owner will likely pay less.
- If home values increase over the next four years, can the district collect more?
No. The total amount collected is fixed by the school board resolution. If home values increase, the rates will go down to compensate, so that the total collected is the same.
- Why does the district need levies?
Despite attempts in the state legislature to fully fund education, we’re not there yet. Levies provide local funding that bridges the gap between what the state and federal governments pay and the actual costs of operating our schools. Levies make up about 20% of the district’s total operating revenue. Levies are necessary to ensure that quality educational programs continue in safe, well-maintained schools with highly-qualified staff who prepare students to be career and college ready through a digital-age technology focus.
- Didn’t the state fully fund education through the McCleary mandate? Why do you still need an Educational Programs & Operation Levy?
While the state’s McCleary plan does provide additional funding, the majority is earmarked for basic education staff salaries. There are many areas of basic education that remain underfunded.
- Why is the district asking for replacement levies now?
Voters must reauthorize the levy for each year of funding. Voters approved the current levies in 2014 for four years.
- Didn’t Sumner School District just run a bond in 2016? Why is the district running these levies?
Both bonds and levies are local funding sources that serve different functions. Bonds are for construction and building of new schools. Levies, on the other hand, support learning such as educational programs and staffing to adequately support school and student needs.
- What’s the difference between a levy and a bond?
“Bonds are for Buildings” and “Levies are for Learning.” Levy dollars can only be allocated to programs that directly impact student success and achievement in the classroom. Levies need 50 percent support to pass; bonds require a 60 percent passage rate. Bonds are used for construction projects that address facility deficiencies throughout the district. While Sumner-Bonney Lake voters passed a bond in 2016 to construct and improve district facilities, these replacement levies continue funding the teaching, learning, health, and safety programs occurring within their walls.
- Who promotes passage of the levies?
Citizens for Education, a non-profit community group who stays informed about Sumner School District by endorsing and promoting district bonds and levies. Find more information about the citizens group at www.citizens4ed.org.
- What percentage of “yes” votes is required for levy approval?
A minimum of 50 percent plus one vote of the total “yes” votes cast is required to approve both the Replacement Educational Programs & Operation Levy and Replacement Instructional Technology Improvements Levy.
- How can I register to vote?
You may register to vote by mail, in person or online at www.piercecountywa.org/vote.
- When is the election and how can I cast my ballot?
The election is Feb. 13. Ballots will be mailed to voters by Jan. 26 and must be postmarked by Feb. 13. You can also place marked ballots postage-free in local drop boxes.
- What happens if the levies don’t pass?
The need for these levies is critical. The district relies on the Education Programs & Operation Levy for almost one-fifth of its operating budget – about 20 percent. Should the levy fail, the current Educational Programs & Operation Levy would expire at the end of 2018. The district would need to cut its operating budget by 20 percent.
If the Instructional Technology Improvements Levy does not pass, the district would not be able to replace technology equipment that breaks or wears out. It would not be able to renew licenses to online research databases that students use or other online educational tools. It would not be able to replace outdated equipment and wireless network infrastructure.
- What types of property tax exemptions are available for seniors and disabled citizens?
The Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons Property Tax Exemption Program, offered by the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer’s Office, freezes the value of your residence, exempts you from paying excess levies and may exempt you from a portion of regular levies. The result is a reduction in your property taxes. For more information, call the Assessor-Treasurer’s Office at (253) 798-2169.
- What’s on the ballot?