On February 8, 2022 our district will have two levies on the ballot for renewal. These levy dollars are separate from the 2019 School Construction Bond that is funding new schools and renovations in our district.
Our Educational Programs and Operations Levy pays for approximately 19% of our district’s basic education programs. It was last renewed in 2018. It helps pay for critical things like special education programs and extra transportation costs — items the state does not fully fund. Our Technology Levy, which was first passed in 2014 and last renewed in 2018, funds our iPad program that helped our district transition quickly to online learning during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The School Board approved the Levy resolutions at the end of November. District officials worked hard to ensure that the cost to taxpayers would be consistent to what they are currently paying now, making this a renewal and not a tax increase.
Renewal of Educational Programs & Operations Levy
The estimated property tax rates per $1,000 assessed valuation for the Educational Programs and Operations Levy are:
$2.17 in 2023
$2.17 in 2024
$2.17 in 2025
$2.17 in 2026
Renewal of Technology Levy
The estimated property tax rates per $1,000 assessed valuation for the Technology Levy are:
$0.31 in 2023
$0.31 in 2024
$0.31 in 2025
$0.31 in 2026
Educational Programs and Operations Levy
Can you imagine a school that just teaches reading, math, science and social studies?
With no electives?
Levy dollars are incredibly impactful because they provide opportunities for students. It gives them the chance to be creative in a visual art class; to perform in band, choir, and orchestra; and to participate in team sports.
Our students deserve these options. They also deserve top notch, world class curriculum. Levies help us purchase new instructional materials to ensure that our students are college and career ready when they graduate.
When Bethel voters first approved a Technology Levy seven years ago to give every student in the district access to a personal iPad, they weren’t thinking about a global pandemic that would one day force us out of classrooms and into a new world of distance learning.
The levy was meant to help prepare Bethel students for the future by putting them into technology-rich classrooms and giving them the most advanced educational tools available. The 1:1 iPad program has succeeded in all the ways our voters had hoped it would, but it has also succeeded in ways no one could have imagined.
Because our students were already comfortable using their iPads — and because our teachers had already received years of professional development training with the tablets — our district had a distinct advantage when COVID-19 forced school closures throughout the country.
While other districts struggled to find devices for all of their students, Bethel students were able to seamlessly move to distance learning with the same iPads they had used all year. The 1:1 program allowed our students and teachers to focus on the curriculum rather than learning how to use a new device.
Using the iPads in classrooms has improved our students’ technological literacy, enhanced their creativity, and leveled the playing field for children of all socioeconomic backgrounds. The devices haven’t replaced teachers by a long shot, but they have been an incredibly useful tool in our teachers’ toolboxes.
We rightfully praise the resilience of our students and tenacity of our teachers during these tough times, but we must also thank our voters for their foresight, their generosity, and their continued contribution to the students of Bethel.
What happens if the Educational Programs & Operations Levy doesn’t pass?
Imagine if your home budget was cut by 19%. Without the EP&O Levy, major cuts would have to be made. Since 83% of our overall budget pays for staff (teachers, bus drivers, etc.), that would mean having to cut positions, which would directly impact students. The EP&O Levy also pays for 100% of extracurricular activities, including sports.
How often are the EP&O Levy and the Technology Levy renewed?
Every four years.
How much does the district spend on administrative overhead?
According to this chart produced by the Puyallup School District during their recent levy campaign, Bethel has the lowest administrative spending in the region.
Does Bethel get extra "Regionalization" money from the state?
No. Unlike our neighboring districts, who see 6-12% extra in regionalization money from the state, Bethel gets no regionalization money.
Do levies require a supermajority to pass?
Unlike bonds, which require a 60% supermajority to pass, levies only require a simple majority of 50%+1 in order to pass. From 1932 to 2007, school levies required a 60% supermajority to pass. The School Levy rate reverted back to 50%. 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.
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.
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.
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?
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, and actually includes a provision for districts to collect levies. That's because while it was a step in the right direction, anyone will tell you that the Bill was 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.
Is 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 www.co.pierce.wa.us/702/Senior-Citizens-Or-Disabled-Persons.
Register to Vote
The deadline to register online to vote in the February Special Election is January 30, 2022.
The deadline to register online is January 30, and the deadline to register in person to vote in the February Special Election is February 8. Residents can register at the Pierce County Election Center, located at 2501 South 35th Street, Suite C, in Tacoma.
January 18: Military and Overseas ballots for the November General Election mailed
January 20: Ballots mailed and 18-day voting period begins
January 30: Deadline to register online or by mail prior to the February Election
February 8: Deadline to register in person to vote in the February Election
February 8: Election Day!
Pierce County Ballot Boxes in our area include:
Graham Fire and Rescue
10012 187th St E
Puyallup, WA 98375
13718 Pacific Ave S
Tacoma, WA 98444
Roy Y Park and Ride
507 & Pacific Ave S
Spanaway, WA 98387
Roy City Hall
216 McNaught Rd S
Roy, WA 98580
South Hill Library
15420 Meridian Ave E
Puyallup, WA 98374
More voter information about the February Election can be found on the Pierce County Elections website.