1) Is this a new levy?
No, this is not a new levy. This is a replacement maintenance and operations (M&O) levy. The current M&O levy will expire 12-31-16. This replacement levy, if passed, would begin 01-01-17.
2) How much will this levy cost the property owners in the Yakima School District?
The collection amount for the first year of the replacement levy (2017) is $14,000,000, which is lower than the 2016 collection of $14,102,264. The existing levy rate for 2015 is $3.1139 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The proposed levy rate in 2017 is expected to approximately be 3.0307 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
3) Didn't we just vote and pass a levy to build new high schools?
No, the high school construction was funded with a bond, which was voted and passed in 2009. The last maintenance and operations (M&O) levy was voted and passed in 2012. It was a 4 year levy that expires in 2016. Levy funds contribute to the overall operating budget of a school district.
4) If the levy raises $14 million annually, why do you call this a $30 million levy?
$14 million is the cost to local property owners through property tax assessment (a little over $3.00/$1000 in assessed property value). If this levy passes, Yakima School District will receive approximately $16 million from the state in what is called Levy Equalization. $14 million + $16 million = $30 million
This is more than a dollar to dollar match by the state. If the levy does not pass, Yakima School District will receive zero dollars in levy equalization from the state - a loss of $16 million annually from the state.
5) Is this the right time to be asking the community for funding?
Our current levy is going to expire at the end of 2016. Yakima residents have a history of support for public education. We have had a maintenance and operations levy in place consistently for the past 16 years. A consistent investment in our schools ensures a well-rounded quality education for students for years to come.
6) What does the levy fund?
The maintenance and operations levy provides support in nearly every area of students' day-to-day education. It helps pay for things the state does not fully fund, such as:
- Early learning
- Technology instruction
- STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education)
- Special education
- Help for struggling students in reading, writing and math
- Enrichment programs like Highly Capable, YAMA, International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, Arts Integration Specialist
- English language development
- All day kindergarten
- Music, arts and drama
- Smaller class sizes
- School nurses
- Professional development
- School security and resource officers