Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Didn’t the state fully fund education and eliminate the need for levies?
School funding is a work in progress. In 2018, state legislators increased state property taxes with the intent of lowering school taxes, NOT eliminating local property taxes. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not perfect for two reasons:
- The funding formulas in the new law create uneven gaps in how much different districts can ask voters to approve. This means some districts can ask voters for more money per student than others. This is not an equitable solution for all students and districts in the state.
- The state money must be spent in very specific ways. Those restrictions eliminate much of our local control for programs our community wants in schools.
- Does not pay 100% of the cost to meet special education students’ educational needs.
- Does not pay to honor existing local agreements made in good faith with school staff, state funding still only pays for part of our people, part of the time.
- Does not pay for technology students must use to become responsible, successful, productive citizens of tomorrow.
- Does not pay for all teacher professional development cost
- Does not pay for the actual cost of basic utilities such as power, water, sewer, and insurance.
How is Kent School District funded?
Kent School District receives money from four sources. At 79%, the state provides the largest portion of the district’s annual budget and the federal government provides about 5%.
Local funding provides 11% of the annual budget. Local funding is generated through levies and bonds approved by the voters. Both are based upon local property valuations—property owners pay a set amount for each $1,000 of property value.
Once approved, bond and levy amounts cannot increase with property values. When property values increase in a community, the amount paid per $1,000 decreases.
Senior citizens and low-income property owners may apply for an exemption from bond and levy taxes. Local non-tax resources such as student fees, grants, Kent Schools Foundation donations, and PTSA provide for less than 1% of the annual budget.
What is Enrichment under current law?
Beginning in 2020: A school district expenditure must supplement state minimum instructional offerings, staffing ratios, program components, or professional learning allocations.
Permitted forms of enrichment:
- Extracurricular activities
- Extended school days/years
- Additional course offering
- Early learning
- Administration of enrichment activities
- Additional activities permitted by the Superintendent of Public Instruction
School districts have needed these local levies to close the gap between state funding and actual school district needs for decades. Even under current law, we are still not fully funded.
How do these levies impact my taxes?
Providing a stable tax rate, while also addressing educational needs, was a primary goal when planning the renewal levy and remains a high priority for Kent School District.
The Educational Programs and Operations Levy is a renewal tax, replacing the current levy voters approved in 2018. Kent School District voters have supported school levies for more than three decades.
The proposed renewal levy rate is $2.15 per $1000 in assessed home valuation. The maximum amount that can be collected is:
- 2021: $69,000,000
- 2022: $76,250,000
This rate of $2.15 per $1000 allows us to keep our overall tax rate constant (including EP&O Levy Renewal for 2 years, our Bond Debt Service Fund, and the voter-approved 2018 Technology and Capital Levy), at $3.89/1,000 annual average rate total.
Once these amounts (above) are approved, they cannot increase with property values. The levy is for a fixed dollar amount. When property values increase in a community, the amount paid per $1,000 decreases.
The exact tax levy rate may be adjusted based on the actual assessed value of the taxable property within the district and the limitations imposed by law at the time of the levy.
Through this levy, the intent of the district is to tax at a rate of $2.15 per $1,000 AV, and to avoid an overall tax rate increase as a result. The levy amounts on the ballot are commensurate with this $2.15 property tax rate, assuming property values continue to grow as they have in the recent past. If, however, property values level off, the district intents to certify a lower amount that would maintain fidelity to the intended tax rate of $2.15. In this way, it is important to understand that the certified tax amount shown on the ballot may ultimately be lower, but it will not be higher.
What happens if property values increase?
If property values go up, the school district does not collect more revenue as property values increase. The levy is for a fixed dollar amount.
The school district does not collect more money if property values increase. The Replacement Educational Programs and Operations (EP&0) Levy would raise a maximum of $145,250,000 million over two years.
What’s on the February 11, 2020 ballot?
Proposition 1 is a two-year Renewal Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy to support educational programs and operations expenses. This proposition would authorize the District to levy excess taxes, as an enrichment levy in place of an expiring levy, upon all taxable property within the District, for support of the District’s General Fund educational programs and operations expenses.
It maintains funding for safety and security, career-readiness programs including opportunities for exploration, acceleration, and remediation in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM), bullying prevention, educational support for students with special needs, and daily operations providing clean, healthy, and well-maintained schools and classrooms.
How do EP&O levy funds benefit our students?
Local levy funding allows us to provide the quality education our community expects for our children, which goes beyond the minimum funded by the state.
The Renewal Educational Program & Operations Levy helps pay for:
- Student safety and school security.
- Career-readiness programs including opportunities for exploration, acceleration, and remediation in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM).
- Bullying prevention and social emotional learning programs.
- Educational support for students with special needs.
- Daily operations to support clean, healthy, and well-maintained schools and classrooms.
- Professional development for teachers, paraeducators, principals, and educational support staff.
- Essential staff like classroom teachers, nurses, counselors, social workers, and bus drivers not fully funded by the state.
What will happen if the propositions do not pass?
Our local funding makes up 11 percent of our current revenue. The EP&O Levy is a large part of this funding, and failure will mean significant reductions in staff, programs, and services for students.
Our school board legally may choose to place the same levy two times before voters in the same calendar year. The reality is that if it is voted down, difficult decisions will need to be made about facility maintenance, educational offerings, staffing levels, student support, and even what community services are provided.
Our district is hopeful that the community continues to see the value of local funding and continues the decades long support.
I thought the state eliminated the need for local funding?
State and federal dollars do not fully fund our district’s day-to-day operations. The district must rely on local taxpayers, through the Educational Programs and Operations Levy, to support essential programs, textbooks and materials for student learning and activities.
Federal and state money our district does receive must be spent in very specific ways. Those restrictions eliminate much of our local control for programs our community wants in schools.
How is Kent School District doing financially this school year?
After two years of intense budget recovery efforts, Kent School District (KSD) is pleased to announce it posted its largest June fund balance in the last five years. Read the full October Newsletter. More information from our Budget and Finance team.
When is the election?
The election is February 11, 2020.
Ballots are mailed about three weeks prior to an election day.
Ballots must be returned by Election Day, no stamp required.
For information about your ballot or other general election information, you can reach King County Elections at (206) 296-8683 or view Voter Registration information on our website.
How will this tax impact senior citizens?
Low-income seniors and people with disabilities may qualify for an exemption. To apply for this exemption, call the King County Tax Exemptions Office at 206-296-3920 or visit the King County website.
Who can I speak with if I have more questions or want to request a community informational presentation?
If you have questions or need additional information about the February 11, 2020 special election, please contact us at (253) 373-7524 or Communications@kent.k12.wa.us.
Look for your ballot in the mail after January 24. For information about your ballot or other general election information, you can reach King County Elections at (206) 296-8683.