2022 Snohomish School District Replacement Levies
Both the Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy and the Replacement Levy for Technology, Safety and Facility Improvements expire at the end of 2022.
These levies help fill the gap between what the state funds and what it really takes to provide a full and rich learning experience in safe and secure schools for Snohomish School District’s almost 9,300 students.
Proposals to replace both expiring levies will be on the February 8, 2022 ballot.
These are not new taxes. Our community has a long history of supporting our schools and filling the gap. Like many of us, Snohomish School District is feeling the pinch of increasing costs for just about everything from cleaning supplies to textbooks. We also invest in staffing to ensure ample caring adults are in our schools keeping children safe and learning successfully.
We are committed to openness and transparency. Please call 360-563-7263 or send an email to email@example.com with any questions you may have about these proposals.
Snohomish School Funding Questions & Answers
What is a replacement levy?
Why do we have local levies?
How long does a levy last?
If property values go up, do local schools get more funding?
Why is state funding inadequate?
Does the district have unfunded mandates that the levy covers?
Didn't the McCleary decision require the state to fully fund education?
What is the difference between bonds and levies?
What is the history of community support for Snohomish schools?
What do other school districts in Snohomish County pay for levies?
Please vote by February 8, 2022
- Maintains programs and services not fully funded by the state
- Pays for overdue improvements to roofing, heating and ventilation systems and security systems
- Not a new tax — replaces two existing levies
- Lower combined tax rate
- 4-year levies: 2023-26
Replacement Levies - Questions & Answers (Infographics)
Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy
- Fills the 12% funding gap to support student learning with more caring adults on school campuses including counselors at every school and almost twice as many learning assistants (paraeducators) than the state provides
- Provides academic support for all students
- Helps students connect with their education through athletics, performing arts, clubs and other activities for stronger mental health and academic success
What would the local Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy fund if it is approved?
The local Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy funds essential school support staff such as learning assistants (paraeducators), psychologists, nurses, substitute teachers and security, as well as athletics, performing arts, clubs, and other activities for stronger mental health and academic success of students.
Does the levy pay for staff positions above what the state funds?
Yes. Much of what the levy funds is people — additional caring adults to provide a full and rich learning experience in safe and secure schools. Snohomish's local levy provides 12% of its annual operating budget, including an additional 56 jobs above what the state funds.
For example, the levy pays for almost double the amount of learning assistants that state funding would provide. In Snohomish, each elementary school has a full time counselor to help with the many social, emotional, and academic needs of children. The local levy helps ensure this support. For a district the size of Snohomish, the state funds just 1.41 nurses. Snohomish employs more than 12 nurses. Again, the local levy funds the difference. Nurses play pivotal roles in public schools but even more so during this pandemic.
Maintaining top quality teachers and support staff benefit our students’ success. Levy dollars are needed to make up approximately 15% of the average teacher’s salary. Snohomish competes with school districts in our county and the northern portion of King County for education professionals. With our support staff we not only compete with surrounding districts, but also with private entities like manufacturers, delivery services and retail businesses currently experiencing labor shortages.
The chart below shows examples of positions that the levy pays for above what the state funds. It does not include all levy-funded positions.
To fund schools the state uses the "Prototypical School Model." That model takes a school district’s enrollment and determines what the state believes is needed. From the number of employees — custodians to teachers — to the amount for curriculum, utilities, and supplies. That state “model” has not changed much since it was first written in 1977. Yet public education and the expectations for our students have dramatically changed during the past 40+ years.
Replacement Levy for Technology, Safety and Facility Improvements
- Maintains school buildings and support facilities including replacing roofs, siding and upgrading heating and ventilation (HVAC) systems
- Improves safety including acquiring and upgrading security cameras, and improving school parking lots, elementary play areas and portable classrooms
- Continues local dollars for the technology our students need to be successful in school and on whatever path they choose to follow after graduation
What would the local Replacement Levy for Technology, Safety and Facility Improvements fund if it is approved?
Even with the most meticulous attention to regular maintenance and prompt repairs, every homeowner understands that over time parts of their home begin to wear out. That is no different with public schools. Snohomish schools have a talented and responsible team caring for our facilities. From custodians to maintenance workers, these employees perform their jobs as if our schools were their personal home.
Overdue Facility improvements
Unfortunately, failure of the 2020 bond proposal has put replacing and restoring worn out systems and infrastructure on the back burner. Older systems such as roofs, heating and ventilation systems (HVAC), and siding are at or nearing the end of their useful life. As any homeowner who has recently replaced their house’s roof can tell you, the cost of a new one can be pricey.
Grants can certainly help fund these overdue improvements. New heating and ventilation (HVAC) controls are underway at three schools as a result of grants from Puget Sound Energy, Snohomish County PUD and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Parts were no longer available for these HVAC controls and a breakdown would seriously impact the higher standards for air quality recently imposed to keep students and staff healthy.
The grants will fund about a quarter of the estimated $450,000 project. One-time federal pandemic relief funds will also help defray the cost. Staff are always on the lookout for grant opportunities, but the majority of infrastructure needs require community support through a levy like the replacement one proposed.
Improved Safety and Security
Safety is always foremost in the minds of Snohomish school leaders. They constantly assess school buildings and grounds for student safety. Security of those buildings is also of strong interest to ensure the community’s investment in its schools is protected. If the proposed Replacement Levy for Technology, Safety and Facility Improvements is approved, new security cameras will be installed or upgraded at every school. The proposal also includes improvements to parking lots, playgrounds and portable classrooms.
Levies are collected over time. Dollars are received twice a year - in the spring and fall when property taxes are typically paid — for the duration of the levy approved by voters. Facility improvement projects will be scheduled as these levy funds are available. Care will also be taken to ensure the longevity of each project.
For example, the roof on top of Dutch Hill Elementary needs replacing. The failed 2020 bond proposal targeted the entire Dutch Hill Elementary structure for replacement. The plan called for expanding classrooms to accommodate its burgeoning enrollment and replace the 36-year-old pod-style structure.
The state contributes “construction assistance” dollars for school replacements after 30 years. That proposed project would have included a new roof. The question for leaders will be to determine if replacement can wait until voters approve a future bond proposal or if the work needs to be done earlier.
Bonds are structured similarly to home mortgages. Schools borrow the money upfront then repay it with interest over time. Typically, bonds are used for new construction or larger remodeling projects. The semi-annual levy collections are more appropriate for smaller improvements.
School leaders will evaluate each project considering:
- available levy dollars,
- the economy’s impact on costs of building materials and labor, and
- ensuring protection of the community’s investment in its public schools.
At this time, more than 50 projects are under consideration and include each school and support facility in the district.
Tools for student success
Children today must reach higher expectations to successfully enter the workforce. To prepare them for their future, Snohomish schools must have the tools in place to meet those expectations. Technology is one of those areas where skill expectations are high. The proposed replacement levy will continue funding the purchase of computers, online curriculum and technical support for students and their teachers. As the pandemic continues, these tools continue to be a lifeline for students.
While state and federal funds can help with purchasing technology, the dollars rarely are adequate to meet the actual need in local schools. The availability of laptops, hot spots for internet access, and online curriculum was of exceptional benefit when COVID-19 forced instruction online in March 2020. Much of this technology was made possible through the local 4-year Technology Levy approved by voters in 2018 as well as federal pandemic relief funds.
What do the proposed replacement levies cost?
The 4-year proposal, beginning in 2023, features a declining overall tax rate. Stable levy rates plus the refinancing of previously voter-approved bonds create the lower overall tax rate. Rates are assessed per $1,000 of assessed property value.
If both levies are approved, the owner of a home valued at $500,000 would pay less in local Snohomish School District property taxes than their 2022 bill (anticipated to be $2,235 this year).
That homeowners’ taxes for both replacement levies and the existing bonds is estimated to be approximately $2,200 in 2023. In future years with the same assessed value, the owner is expected to pay $2,165 in 2024, $2,135 in 2025 and $2,075 in 2026.
Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy Proposal
|Tax Year||Estimated Annual Rate / $1,000||Levy Amount|
Replacement Levy for Technology, Safety and Facility Improvements
|Tax Year||Estimated Annual Rate/$1,000||Levy Amount|
Why are local levy dollars needed for these educational programs and services?
With costs rising in everything from heating classrooms to fueling buses to mowing the grass, that 12% gap between state funds and actual costs is expected to grow in the future. Even with the recent McCleary court decision, state funding does not cover the actual costs of helping all children learn.
Register to Vote
Residents can register to vote online up to a week before the February 8, 2022 Election Day or in person up to Election Day. For more information, visit the Snohomish County website.
A simple majority - 50% plus 1 - of local voters must agree for proposals to be approved.
Property Tax Exemptions
Some senior and disabled homeowners may be eligible for a property tax exemption, based on income. For details call the Snohomish County Assessor’s Office at 425-388-3540 or visit their website.