Levy FAQ

What is an Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy about?

Money from the EP&O levy is commonly used to support many of the educational programs or operations of the schools and district. Basic educational funding from Washington State falls short of covering the full costs of many of the programs and activities our community expects in our schools. While the state is working towards full funding for K-12 education, the state does not claim to fully fund all of the activities because they see them as locally supported initiatives. Examples in this area include the district music, drama and sports programs, curriculum, technology, our lunch program which provides meals at no cost for all our students and much more.

Is this a new tax added to our existing taxes?

No. This is a replacement tax. In February of 2016, Elma voters renewed an expiring two-year levy to be collected through 2018. As that levy is set to expire next year, we are simply asking voters to renew the Educational Programs and Operations Levy for 2019 and 2020. If this levy is approved, voters would not be asked to approve another renewal levy until the spring of 2020.
How much will the EP&O levy cost me?

The levy rates of 2019 and 2020 will lower the local tax rate compared to our 2017-2018 levy. In 2016 voters approved a levy for $3.170 million, which resulted in a levy rate of $4.05 per $1000. For this current levy, $2.514 million was requested for voter approval. Based on current property values, this would result in a projected decreased levy rate of $3.15. Our levy committee lowered our local levy to offset the expected increase in state level taxes for education. Our goal was for local taxpayers’ total taxes for education to remain the same or be slightly reduced. Protecting our local voters and being good stewards of the tax dollars they provide is a district priority.

 Year Levy Rate per $1,000 Assessed Value Cost for $100,000 Home
 $4.05  $405.00
 2019/2020 (proposed)  $3.15  $315.00

Where do public schools get their money?

We receive our funding from four sources. About 71% comes from the state, about 19% from local taxes, about 8% from the federal government and 2% from other sources such as grants or fees. The law allows us to ask our local voters for up to 28% of the amount we receive from state and federal allocations (levy base). Historically, we have asked for less than the maximum allowed. Our current request is approximately at 10% of our levy base.

What programs are we currently funding from levy dollars?
  • Free breakfast and lunch for ALL students; regardless of family income.
  • Free afterschool program for ALL students (tutoring, snacks, transportation home).
  • Free extra-curricular programs: band, drama, athletics, debate and other student activities
  • Current and innovative curriculum and technology
  • Building and grounds custodial and maintenance support
  • School counselors, nurses, behavior interventionists, and other vital support staff (some are partially funded by the state)
  • Staff training and professional development
  • Other related expenses to ensure our students have access to a well -rounded, competitive education!

What are co-curricular or extra-curricular programs?

These include drama, musicals, debate, Honor Society, FFA, FBLA, athletic competitions and, performing and marching bands, choir, and other after school activities. Levy funds make it possible to provide these opportunities to all children regardless of income.

 EP & O Rates
 Existing  Proposed                      
 2017 (actual) - $4.05  2019 - $3.15
 2018 (estimated) - $4.05  2020 - $3.15

Aren’t these items funded by the state under basic education funding?

No. Basic education funds from the state and federal government provide about 84% of the cost of basic education. If we want our children to be competitive for tomorrow’s job markets, we have to make sure they get the education they need and the same level of education that other students around the state receive. The funds requested through this levy represent about 13% of our schools proposed budget for the next two years (17% if you include the incentive funds that would be lost if the levy did not pass).

How do school levies work?

Through Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) (formerly Maintenance and Operations) levies, we raise funds to support our schools. Property owners pay a set amount for each $1,000 of their property values (called Assessed Valuation or AV). These levies require voter approval and cannot be increased. For example, if voters approve $2,514,435 for collection in 2018 and the property value in the community grows more than anticipated, the rate per $1,000 AV decreases. The opposite is also true if the AV in the district declines. The District will only collect the amount legally allowed through Legislative action. If the Legislature does not make any changes to EHB 2242, only allowing school districts to collect $ 1.50/ $1,000 of AV, the district will only collect that amount. The resolution gives the district “authority” (permission) to collect up to $2,514,435 or the legally allowed amount. Any amount over the legally allowed amount will not be collected (rollback).

What is a tax rollback?

The amount the Elma School District is requesting is a maximum amount to be collected and property owners may actually pay less than is requested. The difference between the amount requested in the levy resolution and the amount allowed will be “rolled back” and not collected. If the current legislation is not changed the amount collected will be less than what the current resolution asks for. If the resolution is passed, no new action will need to be taken by the voters to modify this amount. Grays Harbor County and the Elma School District will work together to make sure that the taxes are collected at the allowable rates.

When are levy decisions made?

February is the customary time to put school related issues on the ballot. Discussions at school board meetings and schools help the district plan for long-term needs during the upcoming years. When school districts run an Educational Programs & Operations Levy, they explain their budget projections and how the levy dollars help meet the state shortfall and student needs. This levy is for two years. Voters make a decision on local school levies a little over a year in advance of collection.

Do all school districts receive equal state funding?

The basic formula gives each district a certain dollar amount for each full-time student. For each student who needs extra services there are formulas for additional money. The state also recognizes that some communities have higher property values and can raise funds to support their schools more easily than others. For this reason, the state provides an incentive to districts like ours for passing local EP&O levies. Our district will receive about $800,000 per year from these incentive funds if we pass our levy. We do not receive any incentive money if the voters do not approve the levy. Therefore, the impact to our schools of a levy loss would be about 16.5% of the total budget even though the local levy provides about 12.5% of our total budget.

Didn’t the Legislature fix the school funding issue in the last legislative session?

The State Legislature did pass EHB 2242 in July 2017 and took important first steps towards fully funding schools, but as with all changes in legislation the new rules have areas that need to be looked at a little more for revisions. This legislation was intended to reduce local school taxes by increasing state property taxes (“the Levy Swap”). This decrease in Levy revenue comes with restrictions on how the money now coming from the state can be used. During the 2018 legislative session, there may be changes to recently enacted legislation.

What happens if this levy fails?

If this should happen, our students will not receive the level of education and co-curricular opportunities that are available to them today. The schools will lose approximately 16.5% of their annual budget and be forced to cut deeply into basic programs. Our community has been very supportive of our school and our levies historically.

Message from State Superintendent of Instruction - Chris Reykdal

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