It looks like the Issaquah School District (ISD) will be able to maintain programs and services previously funded by the 2018 Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) Levy, according to early election returns on Feb. 11.
Early election returns show the levy passing by 61.5 percent. To pass, levies in Washington State must receive more than 50 percent approval by voters.
The final election results will be available Feb. 21 (after the Reporter’s press deadline).
The Issaquah School Board approved sending the 2020 EP&O Levy to spring ballots last September.
If approved, the levy will maintain current funding for programs such as career and technical education, mental health counselors, dual language, expanded high school schedules at Issaquah High School and Skyline High School and safety upgrades. It will replace the levy approved by voters in 2018 that expires at the end of this year.
The levy amounts are divided between two years. The 2020 levy will secure $49.85 million in 2021, and $54 million in 2022 — totaling to approximately $103.85 million.
A tax of about $1.33 per $1,000 of assessed valuation ($931 annually for a home valued at $700,000) will provide $49.85 million for the levy made in 2020 for collection in 2021. A tax of about $1.36 per $1,000 of assessed valuation ($952 annually for a home valued at $700,000) will provide $54 million for the levy made in 2021 for collection in 2022.
Prior to the Sept. 12 school board approval, a levy development committee was formed June 2019. The purpose of the committee was to recommend a single levy package for a 2020 ballot measure. The committee presented its recommendation to Superintendent Ron Thiele, who brought the final recommendation to the Issaquah School Board for approval on Sept. 12.
The committee included 24 school representatives, nine principals from each region and grade span, one Issaquah schools volunteer, one PTSA councilmember, one Issaquah Education Association representative, one classified staff representative, one business representative, one senior community representative and two community members at-large.
The levy development committee considered the proposed content, total cost and tax impact of a single two-year ballot measure. The committee members formed levy packages that included funding essential to ensuring ISD has all the resources possible to meet its mission, and safely and efficiently maintain facilities and property according to state and district use standards and schedules.
For the 2021 EP&O levy, there is an estimated per student levy authority of $2,400 with an enrollment projection of 20,770 students for a total of $49.85 million.
“This amount is less than the projected statutory levy authority of $2,575 per student by $175 per student FTE,” according to the advance notice of the EP&O levy.
For the 2022 EP&O levy, ISD recommended an inflationary increase of just more than 3% above the base statutory authority of $2,500 to $2,575 per student.
“Using a projected 2020-21 student enrollment projection of 20,950 for a total amount of (about $53.94 million) rounded up to $54 million. This amount is $80 less per student than estimated statutory authority for calendar year 2022,” according to the advance notice of the EP&O levy.
According to ISD, the district is asking voters for about $6.7 million less than they are legally authorized to collect.
“The total two-year recommended levy amount is $103.85 million. This proposal represents a below full authority levy that is scaled down $6.65 million from the Levy Development Committee recommendation,” according to the advance notice of the EP&O levy. “The total combined tax rate is estimated to decrease by $0.21/1,000 from $3.46 to $3.25 in calendar year 2021. The 2022 estimated total combined rate is estimated to be at $3.30/1,000, which is $0.16/1,000 less than the current total tax rate. The resulting total combined local school tax rate in both the aforementioned years is the lowest rate for ISD citizens in over 20 years.”
For more information about the levy, go online to the district’s website at https://www.issaquah.wednet.edu/district/levy-2020#5.