Graphic that says Frequently Asked Questions
  • How often can a school district run a bond?
    No more than twice per calendar year, as laid out in the Washington State Constitution, Article VII, Amendment 95.

    "By any taxing district otherwise authorized by law to issue general obligation bonds for capital purposes, for the sole purpose of making the required payments of principal and interest on general obligation bonds issued solely for capital purposes, other than the replacement of equipment, when authorized so to do by majority of at least three-fifths of the voters of the taxing district voting on the proposition to issue such bonds and to pay the principal and interest thereon by annual tax levies in excess of the limitation herein provided during the term of such bonds, submitted not oftener than twice in any calendar year, at an election held in the manner provided by law for bond elections in such taxing district, at which election the total number of voters voting on the proposition shall constitute not less than forty percent of the total number of voters voting in such taxing district at the last preceding general election..."

    How much do School Board members make?
    School board members do not receive a salary but they do receive a stipend of $50 per day worked, with a maximum of $4,800 per year. 

    What is the Average Home price in the Bethel School District?

    According to Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan, for 2018 the average assessed value of a Single Family Residence was $297,021.

    The average assessed value of “Residential Parcel of Property” (which includes condos, duplexes, vacant residential land, as well as single-family houses) in Bethel was $281,910.

    Why does Washington state require a 60% supermajority for school construction?

    The original requirement for school bond passage (in the 1889 Constitution of the State of Washington) was a Simple Majority of 50%. But the requirement for levies and bonds increased during one of the worst years of the great Depression, 1932.

    "The supermajority requirement dates to 1932 — one of the worst years of the Great Depression — when voters enacted the restriction through Initiative 64. It was added as an amendment to the state Constitution in 1944." – The Seattle Times

    1944 was another critical year, as citizens at the time were concerned the war-time workers and their families would move away after WWII, leaving local residents to foot the bill for the new schools.

    The School Levy rate reverted back to 50% in 2007 after voters upheld the rule 12 times after its 1932 inception. This constitutional change required ⅔ approval in both the House and Senate before it went before voters, where it only needed to be passed by a simple majority.

    If I rent a home can I still vote?

    Renters have the same voting rights as homeowners. Voters do not need to own their home or apartment, they just need to be registered to vote.

    What portion of Washington’s legal marijuana revenue is dedicated to building public schools?

    Washington is projected to rake in more than $730 million in marijuana revenue over the 2017-19 biennium, but none of that money is specifically earmarked to pay for the construction of public schools. More than $356 million will pay for healthcare services. Another $210 million will be used to help balance the state’s budget, and more than $35 million will be used to fund community health centers. (Source: Tacoma News Tribune)

    Doesn't the lottery help pay for schools?

    Other than a small portion that is allocated to the state’s General Fund, none of Washington’s lottery revenue is used for K-12 public education. The state’s lottery revenue helps fund higher education, but not K-12 education. Many people falsely believe the lottery funds K-12 education because, for a time, it did. In the year 2000, Washington lawmakers passed Initiative 728, which redirected lottery revenue to K-12 school funding. That funding went away in 2009 when the state redirected lottery dollars back to the general fund. Currently, the state allocates lottery dollars to the Opportunity Pathways Account, which funds higher education. (Source: KUOW)

    Won't the impact fees from all of the new homes being built in our area be enough to build some new schools?

    Unfortunately, no. Impact fees are charged at time of the building permit (so only new housing). The fee goes up very minimally each year based on the consumer index. This year, the fee per new house is $3,577 for a single family home and $1,886 for multi-family. The fee represents approximately 1/3 of the true cost to house a new student ($10,369). The District uses impact fees to purchase and place portable classrooms.

    Doesn’t the state fully fund public education?
    House Bill 2242 was not meant to stop bonds and levies. In fact, HB 2242 has nothing to do with bonds. Local school districts are still responsible for the majority of the cost to build new schools and fix old ones.

    HB 2242 does include a provision for districts to collect levies. That's because while it was a step in the right direction, anyone will tell you that it is not a complete fix to fund K-12 education. Bethel, like every other district, has unique situations regarding local programs that are important to our students. So while we use our local levy to fund Special Education programs and extra transportation costs, that might be different in other districts. The local levies allow local control.

    What will the name of the new schools be?
    Board policy 6970 indicates that school names will be determined by the school board on the basis of recommendations made by ad hoc advisory committees appointed for that purpose.

    Didn’t voters approve a pool before and it was never built?
    There have been a lot of myths about pools in the Bethel school district, but there is no pool on the 2019 bond. There has been a pool on Bethel bonds four times in the past: 1980, 1993 and twice in 2016. Those bonds failed all four times.

    I thought the district couldn’t build on the property on 224th/70th
    House Bill 1017 changed that in April of 2017.

    What is the district’s bond rating?
    Aa2. A good rating like this impacts the investor. They’re willing to take a lower interest rate, which costs taxpayers less.

    Why does the district have so many portables?
    The state’s funding model does not authorize funding assistance until there is a significant number of “unhoused students.” Combine the need for classrooms for those unhoused students along with our rapid population growth, and you get 201 portable classrooms. The other option we have is to build new schools without state assistance funds, which would create a larger tax burden on local residents.

    What projects were built with your last bond?
    The last bond voters approved was in 2006. It funded three new schools (Liberty Middle School, Frederickson and Nelson elementary schools), replaced Spanaway and Clover Creek elementary schools, modernized Shining Mountain Elementary and Spanaway Lake High School, and built the new Transportation and Child Nutrition centers. All projects were completed on time and on budget.

    Isn't there a tax break for senior citizens or those with disabilities?

    Senior citizens and people with disabilities who meet certain income requirements may be exempt from part or all of these local property taxes. To learn more, please call the Pierce County Assessor’s Exemption Hotline at 253-798-2169 or visit