Why does PSD need a Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy?
The Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy is critical to maintaining programs at our local schools. The levy funds continued investment in programs, staff and student resources that are not fully funded by state funding. Some examples include:
- Nurses and counselors;
- Educators, including specialists, paraeducators and special education staff;
- Athletics and sports teams;
- After-school clubs;
- Arts and music;
- Early learning;
- Highly capable; and
- Preventative maintenance projects.
The levy replaces the expiring levy approved by voters in 2020.
The levy accounts for about 18% of the District’s overall budget.
All levy funds approved by PSD voters stay in our school district.
What does the Safety, Security and Technology Levy fund?
The Safety, Security and Technology Levy will create stable funding to better protect, serve and prepare our students for the future.
The levy will provide funding for enhanced safety and security systems and technology improvements across the District. Some examples include:
- Secure access controls at all buildings;
- Emergency communications systems;
- Security cameras;
- Cyber security services;
- Student and staff devices; and
- Classroom instructional equipment.
School safety and security are top priorities for families and our community, and equal access to technology is essential to help close opportunity gaps.
All levy funds approved by PSD voters stay in our school district.
Why does the district need a Safety, Security and Technology Levy in addition to the Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy?
Due to recent state funding changes, PSD is only able to collect enough to fund essential educators and programs with the Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy.
During our district’s strategic plan engagement process, we heard that school safety and security are a top priority for our community. Our board and district are committed to prioritizing safety and providing technology to prepare students for the future. To achieve this, we need long-range, dedicated funding from a Safety, Security and Technology Levy. In addition, the levy will be the only funding source for safety and security projects, as the state does not currently fund these resources.
The majority of school districts in Pierce and Kitsap counties have had a Safety, Security and Technology Levy (or similar levy) in place for years. Even with this levy, PSD will maintain the second-lowest tax rate in Pierce County.
Is there a Levy Spending Plan?
Yes, each year, prior to certifying our levy with the County an updated levy plan is posted on our website that outlines the usage of our levy.
The current Educational Operations and Programs Levy plan, which expires at the end of 2023, is linked here.
What is the tax rate for the levies?
The Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy rate is estimated to be $1.13 per $1,000 of assessed value, decreasing to $1.11 per $1,000 in the final levy year.
The Safety, Security and Technology Levy rate is estimated to be $0.25 per $1,000 of assessed value.
The total local school tax rate, including both levies and the existing bond, is estimated to be $1.82 per $1,000 of assessed value, beginning in 2024. This is lower than the total current rate of $2.01 in 2022.
The levies are for a fixed dollar amount and PSD cannot collect more money if property values increase or our student enrollment increases over the estimated figures. PSD will continue to be fiscally responsible, making essential investments in our students while maintaining the second-lowest overall school tax rate in Pierce County.
How much will I pay approximately?
An owner of a $775,000 home is currently paying approximately $1,508 at the local school tax rate of $2.01 per $1,000 of assessed value (tax rate for calendar year 2022). If both levies are approved, the owner of a $775,000 home will pay approximately $1,365 per year in local school taxes beginning in 2024.
When would the levies be collected?
The Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy would be collected in calendar years 2024 through 2026.
The Safety, Security and Technology Levy would be collected in calendar years 2024 through 2029.
How are these levies different from the capital bond we passed in 2019?
Levies are for learning and bonds are for building. The bond our community voted to approve in February 2019 was used to build Pioneer and Swift Water Elementary Schools, replace Artondale and Evergreen Elementary Schools and modernize Key Peninsula and Kopachuck Middle Schools.
The Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy supports all other PSD programs and bridges the gap for essential funding beyond state basic education.
I thought since the McCleary decision, education is now fully funded by the state. Why do we still need local education levies?
The state Legislature has made progress in its efforts to fund education but the state still only funds what it considers “basic education,” which accounts for 77% of our district’s budget.
The Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy funds about 18% of the District’s budget while federal funds make up the remaining 5%.
The 2012 McCleary ruling only involved the way the state funds basic education and the funding formula. Public school district levy funds are highly regulated by the Washington State legislature and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Educational Programs and Operations Levy funds can only be used for enrichment and programs that are not defined as basic education and are essential to the operating budgets of public school districts across the state.
Why is the Safety, Security and Technology Levy not associated with a specific funding percentage of the District’s annual budget?
The Safety, Security and Technology Levy is considered a capital levy, which means it can only fund safety, security and technology costs and projects. This dedicated funding is tracked in a separate fund/account than our general fund (which is used for operational costs). Since these funds are not commingled with other operational funds they do not make up a percentage of our overall general fund annual budget.
Why do we vote on levies so frequently?
Local school levies are approved for a limited number of years and then they expire. The duration of Educational Programs and Operations levies most commonly range from two to four years. Safety, Security and Technology levies can range in duration from one to six years. School districts ask voters to renew their levies as they approach their expiration date.
PSD’s current Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy is set to expire on December 31, 2023.
I heard we were not able to collect all the funds approved by voters from the 2020 Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy. Why did this happen?
When determining how much a district can collect, the district must estimate student enrollment, property values and other economic factors over the duration of the requested levy. The total dollar value of a levy request is based on those estimated factors.
If a district is capped at a per-pupil amount and enrollment does not increase as estimated, then the district has to roll back to a value that is determined by the county to match our levy authority.
Over the course of 2021 to 2023, PSD has rolled back $3,141,050. This means voters gave us the authority to collect the value of the rollback, but the state has said the value is in excess of our legislative authority therefore it is not collected from our community.
Are teacher salaries paid by levy funds?
Levy funds can be used to hire additional staff including teachers and other certificated staff, for the purpose of enhanced programs or reduced class sizes but cannot be used to pay for basic education salaries for teachers.
Examples include positions such as:
- Music teachers;
- School counselors;
- Athletic instructors; and
- Staff that provide intervention services for our students.
When did we last vote on a school levy?
Peninsula School District voters approved the Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy in 2020, at 61.93%. The 2020 levy expires in December 2023, so the Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy will replace that expiring levy.
How is levy funding different from ESSER funds and other funding sources?
Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds were federal dollars provided to school districts (and other public entities) to offset the cost associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds were allocated based on a district’s Title I poverty percentage and had to be spent on pandemic-related costs.
Peninsula School District’s poverty percentage is much lower than surrounding districts. Although the costs associated with the pandemic were the same for school districts, allocating the dollars based on poverty percentage meant districts like PSD had to rely more on our general fund to cover the costs since we did not receive the same percentage of ESSER dollars as our neighbors.
I am a senior citizen or disabled. Am I eligible for a tax break?
Yes, Washington State law provides two tax benefit programs for senior citizens and individuals who are disabled: property tax exemptions and property tax deferrals. For more information on qualifications, please visit the Pierce County website.
What is the plan for fixing our high school facilities?
The district is still finishing construction on Kopachuck and Key Peninsula Middle Schools that were funded by the 2019 bond, and we have already started to review our long-range capital facilities plan which includes our high schools.
How do I register to vote? When will ballots be mailed?
You can register to vote on the Pierce County website. Ballots will be mailed January 27, 2023. Ballots are due February 14, 2023 by 8 p.m.
DID YOU KNOW?
- The current Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy will expire at the end of 2023, so a replacement levy must be passed by voters to continue funding for vital district programs.
- The Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy accounts for about 18% of the district’s annual budget.
- Athletics and extracurricular activities are 100% funded by levy dollars.
- The Safety, Security and Technology Levy will fund items that are important to our community but currently receive no dedicated funding from the state.
- The levies are for a fixed dollar amount and the district cannot collect more money if property values increase.
- The district actually collected less, or “rolled back” funding voters approved for the 2020 levy due to changes in State funding collection rules.
- The Peninsula School District has sound fiscal management that earns top ratings from auditors.
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