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Frequently Asked Questions - Levy

Levy Basics

What is an operations levy and why do school districts need them to support student education and every day operations? 

Our Levy in Action

A look at what programs the levy funding will be used for in HSD - and which ones will need to be cut if the levy doesn't pass.

How much? How long? Plus, a comparison of levy and tax rates over the years and across neighboring districts.

Didn't the McCleary Decision 'fix' our funding? Not quite. What about federal funding? Find out more here.

Voting and registration information, dates, where to turn in your ballot and when, and how to apply for Tax Relief if you're on a fixed income.

Want to ask a question that we haven't addressed? Enter it below and check back here when we post an answer. Thanks for your patience.

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Levy Basics

Levy Basics

How is public education funded in the state of Washington?

Funding for education in the state of Washington comes from three main sources:

 

  • state funding for basic education,

  • bonds, and

  • levies.

 

State funding does not cover the actual costs required to operate a school district. Voter approved bonds and levies provide critical funding for the school district to maintain facilities, provide enrichment programs and other health and educational services.

Bonds fund Buildings / Levies fund Learning

Bonds provide funding for the construction of school buildings. 

Levies provide funding for learning and logistics - the State does not consider the items and programs listed below to be part of a 'basic education':

  • staff that support the SPED program and student IEPs

  • extracurricular activities (sports, band, theater, clubs, etc.)

  • school librarians

  • school nurses

  • instructional technology

  • transportation (buses)

  • school security

  • building maintenance (upkeep, daily cleaning, safety and COVID support not covered in state/federal funding)

 

Some, or all, of these items may be reduced or eliminated if this levy isn't approved.

What does Washington State consider to be a 'Basic Education'?

That question is the source of much debate in the state of Washington…

To some, basic education is the educational experiences that support students’ learning of standards. To others it includes all services that support learning and safety such as nurses and security personnel.  Some also consider basic education to include supplies, learning materials, support staff, and extracurricular activities.

Article IX, Sections 1 and 2 of the State Constitution declares that: (1) it is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provisions for the education of the state’s children; and (2) the Legislature is required to provide for a general and uniform system of public schools.

Click here to view the full definition of a 'basic education' as outlined by the State of Washington. 

In response to this statute, the Legislature and the Court system continue to redefine Basic Education in effort to meet its paramount duty. As a result, the Legislature has increased the state’s funding of Basic Education. Despite increased funding, state funding for Basic Education continues to fall short of a district’s true costs. This funding gap creates a reliance on local levies and can lead to local inequities in per student funding.

Levies pay for certificated, support and special education staff that are necessary but not covered by the state. This includes teachers to keep class sizes low or provide specialty offerings, positions such as librarians, nurses, and security, and learning support personnel to meet special learning needs. It also funds important educational programming, athletics, fine arts and extracurricular activities not included in the state’s definition of basic education.

How much does Washington State provide to HSD to support Basic Education?

This is difficult to answer because a set amount of funding can be allocated to many different programs and purposes. However, state funding falls short of the full cost of providing basic education programs and services. Educational Programs & Operations levies help the district bridge the gap between what the state pays and what a Hockinson education costs, which is typically 10-15% of total costs. For more information, check out our By the Numbers.

Is this a replacement levy?

Yes. We are currently paying a current Educational Programs and Operations Levy (abbreviated as EP & O  Levy) that voters approved in April of 2019. This levy will expire at the end of 2022. 

This replacement levy is calculated at $1.89 per $1,000 assessed value. For more information check out By the Numbers.

Our Levy in Action

Our Levy in Action

What programs will this levy fund in our HSD schools in the upcoming year(s)?

Special Education 

Student transportation 

Building maintenance and cleaning

School safety, security and health services

Instructional technology

Athletics

Extracurricular programs such as band, theater, clubs and activities

What programs in HSD - specifically - will be cut if this levy is not approved?

This would fall under the “To Be Determined” category:

Ultimately, this would be a School Board decision, but these are the positions and services that could be reduced or eliminated:

HEALTH, SAFETY & SECURITY

   • No security staff

   • Fewer recess aides

   • Reduction in nursing support 

   • Reduced facilities and field management—fewer custodians and grounds staff will mean a decline in cleanliness and                        maintenance 

TEACHING & LEARNING

   • Larger class sizes—fewer staff members • Loss of specialists and their expertise

   • Fewer support staff—less assistance available for technology, school offices and more

   • Cuts from general education to reallocate funds for state-mandated programs

   • Special Education

   • Transportation

   • Falling behind with instructional technology, which impacts student learning today and makes replacement more expensive in the        future.

BUILDING MAINTENANCE

   • Reduction in building cleanliness, routine maintenance and upkeep.

EXTRACURRICULARS

   • Loss of music, theater and academic extracurricular funding—fewer opportunities for skill development and community-building          for the hundreds of students who participate each year

   • Loss of athletics funding—fewer opportunities for the hundreds of student-athletes who participate over the fall, winter and spring        seasons.

Is there a chance that HSD will be absorbed into a neighboring school district if we continue to fail to meet budget requirements?

Yes. Like any home or business budget, a school district cannot continue to operate if its costs exceed its revenues.  This scenario would also depend on other school districts’ interest in taking on HSD operations.

By the Numbers

By the Numbers

What is the current levy amount/what is the new levy amount that we’re asking for?

CURRENT LEVY AMOUNT: The 2019 EP & O Levy Rate was $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value, the second-to-lowest in Clark County. While our district could have collected more, it honored this rate.

For three consecutive years, the Hockinson School District has made reductions in an attempt to balance its budget.  This has resulted in operating at levels that are not sustainable to meet the expectations of our students and community.  The levy makes up roughly 11% of the overall Hockinson School District budget and helps to bridge the gap between what the state of Washington funds and the actual cost of operating a school district. 

REPLACEMENT LEVY AMOUNT: The proposed EP & O Levy Rate is $1.89 per $1,000 of assessed property value. If approved by voters, the four-year levy will collect: $4,075,000 in 2023, $4,300,000 in 2024, $4,525,000 in 2025, and $4,775,000 in 2026.

If not approved by voters, the HSD annual budget will decrease by nearly 11%. This will result in drastic cuts in programs and services that support our students.

When will this levy expire/what is the length of the term?

The current levy expires Dec. 31, 2022. The length of the replacement levy is a four-year term that would begin in 2023 and run through 2026.  By not pursuing a longer term, it allows the district to re-evaluate its needs and operate as efficiently as possible.

Why can’t the district operate within its current budget and make the necessary adjustments to remain at the same rate as the previous levy?

The replacement levy has been calculated at $1.89 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The rate was determined by the following process:

  1. A district calculated the amount needed to operate

  2. That amount is calculated over the levy length in years with adjustment added

  3. The Clark County Assessor gave us the Excess Value of all property within HSD’s boundaries. (Excess Value = Total value of all property less exemptions)

  4. Once that information was received the rate was calculated. 

 

From that...the district arrived at its levy rate per $1000 of home valuation.

If the Assessor’s excess value increases, the rate per $1000 gets smaller. Therefore the adverse is true, if the Assessor’s excess value decreases then the then the rate per $1000 will increase. 

DID YOU KNOW? After the previous levy was approved in 2019, the State of Washington passed legislation allowing school districts to collect up to $2.50/$1000. Essentially allowing HSD to take additional levy tax dollars without having a vote. However, HSD remained committed to not doing so and remained at 1.50/$1000 despite operating at a deficit. 

In general, the amount requested by school districts increases from levy to levy because costs continually increase. Labor and operating costs continually increase. Insurance costs and materials costs, for instance, have increased significantly over the past three years.  The HSD cannot keep up with the rise in expenses. We have made reductions in programs and staff every year for the past three years. If this replacement levy is not approved by voters, our school district annual budget will be reduced by over 10% and reductions in programs and staff will continue.

How much does HSD need to ‘bridge the gap’ between state funds and what we need to meet current operating costs? Will this levy bridge those gaps entirely?

The gap can be measured in a couple of different ways. The HSD could look to the amounts it has had to reduce every year to balance its budget. It could also calculate the deferred costs. Knowing that the Hockinson community is interested in striking the balance between quality and cost, the HSD’s levy request reflects that balance. 

The replacement levy amount bridges the gap between HSD’s needs and the State funds that we receive and nothing more.

Where can I find information regarding the district budget and finances?

The information below regarding the Hockinson School District budget and financial information can be found on the HSD website via the Departments tab, using the drop down menu and click on "Business Services.' Click here to view.

 

Financial Information

2019-2020 End of the Year Financial Report Presentation

2019-2020 Financial Statements

2021-2022 Budget Hearing Presentation June 28, 2021

2021-2025 Four Year Enrollment and Budget Plan Summary (F195F)

2021-2022 Budget Document (F195)

Prior years budget documents (F195) and financial statements (F196) can be found at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) website, under Finance & iGrants/School Apportionment and Financial Services/Reports.

Click here to view the 2020-2021 budget in PDF format.

Funding Facts

Ack! I just got my property assessment, this means the amount of money I pay for the levy is going to jump through the roof too! Right? 

Not so fast!! You have to understand something about how the levy works. The school district came up with a set dollar amount that they will need to continue to operate our three schools with proper staffing, technology, safety, transportation, and student activities that the state doesn't include in their sparse definition of 'basic education.' 

The HSD board calculated that they will need approximately $4.5 million each year to continue operating at a level that fully supports our students (see above for exact totals). The amount each home owner pays was then calculated based on your home value in 2021. Using these numbers the replacement levy rate was calculated to be $1.89 per $1000 assessed property value.

Ok, now imagine it's 2023 and your house just assessed at an astronomical value. Woohoo! But wait...  Yikes! That means you have to pay more into the pot, right?

NOPE. The school 'ask' remains the same four-year total. That means there is a potential that the amount per $1000 assessed value on your property goes down - to an amount less than $1.89 per $1000 - because again, just because property assessments may go up, the amount the district is asking for remains the same. It's still that same total, four-year dollar amount.

AND KEEP IN MIND: The 2019 EP & O Levy Rate was $1.50/100k, the second-to-lowest in Clark County. While our district could have collected more, it honored this rate.

AND even at the $1.89/100k Hockinson will continue to have the second-lowest combined levy rate in the area.

What percentage of the total HSD budget comes from the levy?

The levy accounts for approximately 11% of Hockinson's total budget. In 2020-21, it provided $2,685,783 for essential student programs and services. As a property-poor school district, the HSD also received $476,150 in levy equalization from the state.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What percentage of the total HSD budget comes from State funding?

In 2020-21, State funding accounted for approximately 81%  of the HSD annual budget.

Does the Hockinson School District receive federal funding?

Yes. But the amount the HSD receives is considerably less when compared to other local school districts as this funding is tied to such qualifying factors as Free & Reduced Lunch participation. In 2020-21, federal funding accounted for 8% of the HSD annual budget.

The McCleary Decision was supposed to 'fix' our funding, right?

The McCleary Decision increased funding for schools. However, it fell short of fully funding schools and school programs such as Special Education.  At the same time, school districts have experienced a significant increase in operating costs, which have counteracted this additional funding.

Does the money provided as part of this levy directly fund teacher salaries?

Levy dollars will fund the salaries of special education teachers.

Funding Facts
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Time to Vote

Time to Vote

When will ballots be mailed out?

Ballots will be mailed out January 21, 2022

When do I need to submit my ballot?

All ballots need to be submitted by February 8, 2022.

How can I cast my ballot?

BY MAIL: Washington State votes by mail. To receive a ballot based on the jurisdictions you reside in, your residence address and mailing address, if different than your residential address, must be current. 

If you are temporarily away, such as serving in the military, attending college, or spending the winter in another state, but Clark County is your home of permanent residence, you can request that your ballot is mailed to where you currently reside. Please make your request at least 30 days before Election Day to allow the ballot to arrive at your mailing address on time.

Clark County Elections Office (1408 Franklin Street, Vancouver), available from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday and 7 am to 8 pm on Election Day.

VISIT A LOCAL BALLOT DROP BOX:  Return your voted ballot to one of the 22 red permanent ballot drop boxes, available 24 hours a day starting 18 days before an election until 8 pm on Election Day.

There's a ballot drop box located in the parking lot of the Hockinson Community Center (old Hockinson Middle School). It's so simple to drive through and drop off!

Who can vote on these school levies?

Registered voters living within the boundaries of Hockinson School District may vote on the district’s 2022 levy.

What percentage of 'yes' votes is required for approval of the levy?

A 50 percent majority of “yes” votes plus one is required to approve the school district levy measure.

I'm on a fixed income. I want to support Hockinson students, but I can't afford another tax increase! What programs are offered for Tax Relief for senior citizens, disabled persons, etc.?

Some seniors and disabled homeowners may be eligible for a property tax exemption based on income. Please contact the Clark County Assessor’s Office at (360) 397-2391 or taxreduction@clark.wa.gov. Online: https://clark.wa.gov/assessor/property-tax-relief-programs.

Ask and Answer

Ask and Answer

Where can I find additional information about the levy?

Click here to visit the HSD "Facts About the HSD Replacement Levy"

 

A virtual levy information presentation will be shared by HSD on January 18, 2022 at 6:30 PM.

 

A levy flyer will also be mailed to HSD families in the middle of January 2022. 

 

The Citizens for Hockinson School will be hosting a rally and informational meeting January 25th. Details TBD.

 

Nov. 29, 2021 Educational Programs & Operations Levy Resolution

Nov. 30, 2021 Press Release

Citizens Advisory Committee Informational Presentations:

Oct. 4, 2021 HSD Safety & Budget Presentations

Nov. 2, 2021 HSD Transportation & Learning Support Presentations

Dec. 6, 2021 HSD Maintenance/Operations & Technology Presentations

Jan. 3, 2022 HHS Athletics & Activities Presentation

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Updated 1/26/2022
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