Why do we need the 2018 Bond?

The 2018 bond continues Everett Public School’s long-term capital planning to prepare students for future success. The plan addresses ways to accommodate the growing number of students, reduce overcrowding, increase student safety and maintain school facilities. A $149.7 million bond, approved by voters in April 2016, is now funding important projects and school improvements as part of this long-range plan.

How was it determined what to include in the bond?

Over the past two years Everett Public Schools and the board of directors has sought input from parents, the community, Capital Facilities Advisory Council and local business leaders through multiple channels and opportunities. These include study sessions, school forums, online group conversations, surveys and community and parent presentations.

The district developed the 2018 bond to address the most critical needs not included in the 2016 bond. These include new permanent classrooms for growing enrollment, establishing high-tech vocational career pathways at each high school to prepare students for future success, and continuing maintenance on older facilities to protect the public’s investment in schools.

 What is an Educational Program and Operations (EP&O) Levy?

The Educational Programs & Operations Levy replaces an expiring four-year levy and makes up the difference between what the state pays to operate local schools and the actual cost to do so. While the state has made progress, many programs are still not fully funded.

Programs include summer school, extended day learning, professional training for teachers and staff, music, art, drama, athletics, after-school programs and clubs, transportation, early learning, teaching materials, special education, and ongoing facilities maintenance.

 Top reasons to vote YES for both the bond and levy:

They help prepare students for jobs of tomorrow
High-tech vocational opportunities enhance learning and give students the experience and training they need to be successful in the modern economy. The bond will establish a specialty STEM program at each high school and give students access to in-demand career pathways regardless of their background or family’s income.

They relieve school overcrowding
Everett Public Schools is the fastest growing district in Snohomish County and is projected to grow by nearly 1,600 students in the next ten years. More permanent classroom space is needed to accommodate the growing number of students, reduce class sizes and relieve school overcrowding.

They strengthen our community
Better schools help build a stronger community, which improves our quality of life, keeps crime down, and increases the value of our homes.

They provide basic maintenance and protect public investment in schools
Many of the district’s older schools need critical maintenance. Taking care of these projects now protects our investment in schools and will cost less to fix than if we wait until later.

How will my tax rate change?

Schools are funded with a combination of state and local taxes. If both the capital bond and replacement levy are approved by voters in February 2018, the projected school tax rate will not increase. As part of the MeCleary decision and changes made in the 2017 legislative session, the state portion of the school tax rate is increasing in 2018. Everett Public Schools, being mindful of this increase, is seeking an amount on the bond and levy that keeps school tax rates stable. As the state tax rate increases, the local tax rate decreases to $4.89 per $1,000 of assessed home value. This is a lower local tax rate than voters paid in the previous four years. In 2019 for a home valued at $300,000, an owner would pay $1,467 to support local schools. In 2013, for a home valued at $300,00, an owner paid $1,965.

Does the decrease in the local Everett Public School’s tax rate fully offset the increase in the state property tax rate?

Currently, property owners in Washington State pay a state property tax to fund education for all 295 districts in the state. The legislature’s McCleary Plan involves increasing the state property tax rate to more fully fund Basic Education for all students in Washington. The legislature has indicated that the state rate will increase by approximately $0.97 per $1,000 of Assess Value. The local tax rate will decrease by approximately $0.97 or more per $1,000 of Assess Value to keep the overall school tax rates the same as in 2017.

What is a school bond?

The State of Washington does not cover the cost of building new schools, renovating older schools or costly maintenance projects. Instead, local voters must approve school bonds for this purpose. After the completion of certain types of capital projects, districts may be eligible for state construction assistance based on need, which is typically a very small percentage of the overall project cost.

School bonds are similar to a mortgage and may be paid off up to 30 years. Everett Public Schools limits their bond term to a maximum of 20 years, helping keep the annual cost lower for taxpayers.

How can bond money be used? 

State law mandates that proceeds from a bond be used for the construction and renovation of facilities, the acquisition of land, and the purchase of capital items such as portables or equipment. Bond dollars cannot be used for classroom operations or teacher salaries. Careful bond planning, however, is one critical way districts preserve classroom funds. For example, if a roof fails at an elementary school, the cost of replacement can be upwards of $2 million, equivalent to more than 20 teaching positions. If no bond funds are available, classroom operations dollars must be used instead.

How do bonds work?

The sale of bonds begins with an election to authorize a specific amount, which in this election is $330.6M. The school district sells them as municipal bonds when funds are needed for each capital project. Bids are taken from interested buyers, usually large institutional investors, and are sold at the lowest interest rate offered. The rate is based on the district’s bond rating—the higher the bond rating, the lower the interest rate to sell the bonds. Everett Public Schools has a long history of high ratings and is one of the highest rated districts in Washington State, which means favorable interest rates and savings to taxpayers.

What is a levy and how is it different from a bond?

Washington State allows local voters to approve levies with a duration between one to six years. Funds are collected each year over the stated duration. To minimize election costs, Everett Public Schools requests voters approve levies of four or six years. The EP&O levy doesn’t require the issuance of debt like a bond, which means no interest is paid to investors.

How many votes does a capital levy and bond need to pass?

A levy requires 50% +1 yes votes (simple majority) to pass and a bond measure requires 60% yes votes (supermajority).

Are some residents eligible for tax exemption?

Property tax exemptions are available for senior citizens (61+), veterans and disabled persons. To learn more visit the Snohomish County Assessor’s website.

How do I register to vote?

Snohomish County uses an all mail-in election system (there are no polling places). Register to vote online at the Secretary of State website by March 28. Ballots must be postmarked by April 26, 2016 to be counted.

How can I get more information or have someone speak to my group or organization?

For more information or to have someone meet with your group or organization, please send an email to info@ImVotingYes.com.

 

 

News From the Campaign:

Editorial: Students deserve yes vote on school levies, bonds

Voters in each of the county’s 15 K-12 public school districts have a long track record of support when asked to approve the school levies that supplement what the state provides in the classroom. But there’s apprehension this year among parents, teachers, district officials and others that a one-year spike in property taxes this year … Continued

Why you ought to vote yes for Everett schools bond and levy

I would like to share a conversation my wife and I had over morning coffee: Hap: Have you filled out your ballot for the Everett Public Schools? Clay: I thought the state Legislature solved the school funding problem. Why do we need another levy and bond for local schools? Hap: The Washington Supreme Court told … Continued

Community: