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Frequently asked questions from the North Thurston Public Schools.How are schools funded

Q:  What is an Educational Programs Replacement Levy?

A:  The Educational Programs, Maintenance & Operations Replacement Levy will renew the district’s current levy, which expires in 2016 and requires voter approval to continue. Funding from the replacement levy represents about 21 % of the district’s annual operating budget.

 

Q:  Why doesn’t the state cover the full cost of basic education? 

A:  There are many things the state does not cover that many people consider part of basic education. For example, state funding only pays for 5 of a student’s 6-period school day, and only part of teacher and employee costs.

On January 5, 2012, the state Supreme Court issued McCleary v. State of Washington. In essence, the Court ruled that Washington was not adequately funding basic education and needed to come up with a funding plan to do so. In August 2015, the court ordered sanctions of $100,000 a day against the state, saying the Legislature still hasn’t provided a sufficient plan. The new definition includes increased instructional hours, more funding for transportation, smaller class sizes, all-day kindergarten (and space for programs), programs for highly capable students and opportunity for more graduation credits. Until then, the local levy helps fund the gap needed to maintain educational programs and activities not funded by state and federal dollars.

 

Q:  What does the levy help pay for?

A:  The levy represents nearly 21 cents of every dollar of the district’s day-to-day operating budget and supports all school district educational programs, including:

  • Teacher and support staff salaries
  • Textbooks and teaching materials
  • Learning support programs for struggling students
  • Honors and Advanced Placement programs
  • Extracurricular activities such as music, drama, athletics and clubs
  • Vocational/CTE programs
  • Special education programs
  • Facilities operation, maintenance and transportation

 

Q: How is the amount of the levy determined and is there a limit?

 A: Levies are amounts passed by taxing districts to cover the costs of providing public services within a given area. The tax rate for the individual taxing district is determined by dividing the approved district budget by the taxable assessed value of property within its district boundaries. Under state law, most public school districts are limited to a maximum amount of 28% of the levy authority calculated by the state. For North Thurston Public Schools, this amount is about $163.5 million over the next four years.

 

Q:  How much will the replacement levy cost me?

A: Collection of funding from the approved measures would begin in 2013. The most reliable financial forecasts available estimate that the levy will drive an additional 21 cents per $1000 of assessed valuation initially for a levy rate of $3.50/$1000; homeowners with a home valued at $250,000 would pay $875 in 2013.

 

Q: What about senior citizens, veterans or others on a limited income?

A: Exemptions are available for senior citizens (61+), veterans and disabled persons. Visit the Thurston County Assessor’s website for more information, or call 360-867-2200.

 

Q:  How many votes are needed to pass a school levy?

A:  M&O levies, Transportation levies, and Capital Project Levies require a majority vote (+50%). A Bond measure still requires 60 percent.

 

Q: How do I register to vote?

A: Thurston County uses an all-mail-in election system (there are no polling places). Military families can register to vote or change their place of registration if they are a legal resident of Washington state, a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years old by Feb. 9, 2016. Register to vote online by January 11, or pick up a ballot at any local school. Ballots must be postmarked by February 9, 2016 to be counted.

 

Call 360-412-4418 for more information.

 

 

 

 

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