On Feb. 13, 2018, school districts throughout our region will ask voters to approve levies and bonds that directly benefit students in the classroom.
The Greater Spokane Incorporated Board of Trustees recently voted unanimously to support the passing of the upcoming bonds and levies.
These levies provide school districts with the dollars needed to fully fund various learning opportunities for students. All of the items on the February ballot are now “enrichment levies,” which replace the traditional maintenance and operations levies. According to the Washington State Department of Revenue, levies are capped at the lesser of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $2,500 per full-time equivalent student. Although varying by each school district, levies provide additional classes, including music, technology, books, materials, and STEM courses.
Local communities are the engine for our schools, which help to fuel our local economy. A majority of the funding for our K-12 education system is provided by local taxes. By voting in favor of levies and bonds, we can raise the bar for education in our community.
In a study from 2015-2016, NorthEast Washington Educational Service District 101 said there were 8,280 full-time employees throughout all of our region’s school districts. Their collective total annual operating budgets came to $862 million, with an additional $212.3 million budgeted for capital projects.
Nearly all school districts throughout our region are asking voters to approve levies. Central Valley School District and Mead School District both have bonds on the ballot, in addition to their levies.
How can you help?
Vote. Statewide voter turnout for the November 2017 election was a record low, with only 37.1 percent turning in their ballots. That marks a 1.4 percent difference from the previous low, set in 2015.
Levies require a simple 50 percent approval rate on ballots cast. Bonds, however, require 60 percent approval by their constituency, in order to be validated. Unlike other requests for funding, such as EMS levies, school districts are exempt from a requirement of 40 percent voter turnout.
Ways you can encourage others to vote and show support include picking up a window cling at our office, 801 W. Riverside Ave. Volunteer with your school district’s citizen’s group. You can also add your name as a supporter by emailing Cassidy Baumgartner.
The Feb. 13, 2018 election will be the first test for the state’s new levies. These ballot items allow our region’s educators to provide high-performing curriculum items, use innovative technologies in the classroom, creating the greatest opportunities for students. Investing in our future benefits us all.
For additional information, access to our toolkit, and to lend your support, visit EducationGrowsEconomies.com.