The various educational program levies the four local school districts are running in February 2018 look different than before, due to a new statewide school district funding allocation called a “levy swap.” Photo courtesy of Enumclaw School District

The various educational program levies the four local school districts are running in February 2018 look different than before, due to a new statewide school district funding allocation called a “levy swap.” Photo courtesy of Enumclaw School District

Districts to float levies, adjust to state changes

In a joint press release, the Enumclaw, Sumner-Bonney Lake, White River and Dieringer school districts announced Dec. 8 they will be placing Educational Programs and Operations Levy and Instructional Technology Improvement Levy measures before voters.

The four local school districts will be placing levies on the upcoming February special election ballot.

In a joint press release, the Enumclaw, Sumner-Bonney Lake, White River and Dieringer school districts announced Dec. 8 they will be placing Educational Programs and Operations Levy and Instructional Technology Improvement Levy measures before voters.

There have been legislative changes since voters last approved school levies, resulting in a different funding formula and changes in terminology.

“When the state legislature finalized their work in July 2017, they made significant changes to how school districts are funded and narrowed the ways levy funding can be used,” Enumclaw School District’s Public Information Officer Rossi Ensign wrote in the press release. “One of the largest changes resulting from their work shifts the burden of paying for basic education through state imposed taxes.”

Most noticeably, the change will lower local rates assessed through traditional maintenance and operations levies.

“Because of the complexity of the legislature’s changes, school districts are still receiving information from our local and state agencies about the implications of the ‘levy swap,’” Ensign wrote.

“Things are still evolving,” said Kira Acker, director of business and operations for the White River School District.

The biggest change voters will notice is that school M&O levies (now called Educational Programs and Operations Levies, a cosmetic change the state legislature made) are now limited to a rate of $1.50 per every $1,000 in assessed property value.

For some districts, this is a much lower rate than what has been previously set.

Other changes include what programs Educational Programs and Operations Levies are able to fund, which include safety and security improvements, special education funding not covered by the state, athletics and activities programs, staff and teacher training and pay not covered by the state, and miscellaneous school supplies.

“Each school district will provide greater details during the coming months about the proposed levies,” Ensign said. For now, anyone interested in learning more can contact individual school districts or search their websites.

ENUMCLAW SCHOOL DISTRICT

The Enumclaw School District is running an Educational Programs and Operations Levy on the February ballot.

The proposed levy is for four years, capped at the state limit of $1.50 per every $1,000 in assessed property value.

For a property owner with $300,000 in assessed property value, the levy would tax them about $450 a year.

The district expects to collect $6.3 million in 2019, $7.2 million in 2020, $8.3 million in 2021 and $9.6 million in 2022.

When Enumclaw School District voters last approved an M&O levy four year ago, they authorized the district to collect property taxes at a rate up to $3.89 per $1,000 of assessed value. The rate has dropped over time and, for the 2017 collection year, property owners paid at a rate of $3.20. That works out to $960 annually on property valued at$300,000.

WHITE RIVER SCHOOL DISTRICT

The White River School District is placing two levies on the February ballot — an Educational Programs and Operations Levy and a Capital Projects Levy for technology and repairs to district buildings.

The proposed four-year Educational Programs and Operations Levy would, if passed, collect $4.7 million in 2019, $5.1 million in 2020, $5.5 million in 2021 and $6 million in 2022.

The Capital Projects Levy, also being proposed for four years, carries a tax rate ranging between $1.06 and $1.09 per $1,000 of property value. Collections are estimated to begin with $3.1 million in 2019; in the following three years, collections are pegged at $3.4 million, $3.6 million and finally, in 2020, 3.7 million.

Both levies would tax property owners with $300,000 in assessed property value an average of $775 a year for four years.

Like other districts, White River’s Educational Programs and Operations Levy is much lower than the former M&O levy. District property owners are paying a rate of $3.43 this year; it was $3.83 in 2016 and $3.82 in 2015.

White River’s last voter-approved technology levy had a two-year lifespan and expires with the close of 2018.

The Capital Projects Levy on the February ballot would pay for more than just tech upgrades. According to the resolution passed by the White River School Board, money would also be used to replace the roof and renovate the heating-and-cooling system at White River High School, improve parking at Elk Ridge Elementary, replace the maintenance building at Glacier Middle School and add classrooms at the K-3 level.

DIERINGER SCHOOL DISTRICT

Unlike Enumclaw and White River, the Dieringer School District is proposing its Educational Programs and Operations Levy for two years rather than four. That levy will be offered alongside a four-year technology levy.

In 2019, the Educational Programs and Operations Levy is expected to generate $6.6 million, and another $7.2 million in 2020.

The technology levy would start off at a rate of $0.86 per every $1,000 in assessed property value in 2019. The rate would decrease to $0.84 in 2020 and $0.83 the following two years. The district expects to bring in around $1.7 million each year.

Both levies would tax property owners with $300,000 in assessed property value an average of $705 for 2019 and 2020.

SUMNER-BONNEY LAKE SCHOOL DISTRICT

Like Dieringer, the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District is running a two-year Educational Programs and Operations Levy, but the district is also running a six-year Instructional Technology Improvement Levy.

Although the press release states the district can collect up to $20 and $24 million though the $1.50 Educational Programs and Operations Levy rate in 2019 and 2020 respectively, the district expects a much more modest number — less than $14 million both years.

The six-year Instructional Technology Improvement Levy would begin with a rate of $0.60 in 2019, potentially yeilding $5.2 million in revenue, and the same rate in 2020 about $5.8 million; in 2021, a rate of $0.55 could potentially bring in another $5.8 million; in 2021, a rate of $0.45 could net another $5.2 million; in 2023, a rate of $0.31 may yield $4; and in 2024, a rate of $0.28 may bring in another $4 million.

Both levies would tax property owners with $300,000 in assessed property value $630 for 2019 and 2020.

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