Three school levy proposals are headed toward voters

January 7, 2014

Voters will have the chance to approve or deny three levy proposals the Issaquah School District is placing on the Feb. 11 ballot.

The district is seeking the renewal of its existing maintenance and operations levy, which provides a large chunk of employee salaries not covered by the state.

By Greg Farrar Construction, funded by the previous bond issue, continues Jan. 3 on a classroom and library wing at Liberty High School.

By Greg Farrar
Construction, funded by the previous bond issue, continues Jan. 3 on a classroom and library wing at Liberty High School.

The district is also asking for a one-year, $1.7 million transportation levy, and a four-year, $52 million capital levy aimed at improving technology and making key repairs to facilities.

If all three levies are approved, the total tax rate for a district property owner would rise 8 cents to $4.83 per $1,000 from 2015-18. That equates to a $40 annual increase on a $500,000 home.

Bonds and levies: the differences

Jake Kuper, chief of finance and operations for the Issaquah School District, said it’s common for people to confuse bonds and levies.
“The easiest way to remember the difference is bonds are for buildings and levies are for learning,” he said.
Because the state doesn’t fund regular maintenance costs for existing schools, or construction costs for new schools, districts like Issaquah rely on voters to approve bonds. Similar to a mortgage, Kuper said, bonds are paid over a long-term period, typically 20 years. State law requires bond dollars to be spent on capital projects, like new construction or major maintenance, not classroom operations.
Levy dollars “help districts close the gap between what the state pays for education and the actual cost,” Kuper said. Issaquah’s current maintenance and operation levy pays for 21 percent of classroom costs.
Capital levies pay for technology — including hardware, software and infrastructure — and repairs to items like heating and cooling systems, roofs and security systems.
Like classroom costs, the state doesn’t fully fund transportation needs, and a levy like Issaquah’s one-year, $1.7 million proposal helps districts pay for new bus purchases, Kuper said.

Read more

Letters to the Editor

December 31, 2013

School levies

Education — no better return on your investment

As we enter a new year, Issaquah School District voters have a unique investment opportunity.

On Feb. 11, the entire community will have the opportunity to vote yes on a three-part Issaquah district school-funding ballot, comprised of the following items:

  • Four-year Maintenance and Operations Levy in the following amounts: $44.5 million in 2015, $48 million in 2016, $51.5 million in 2017, and $54 million in 2018.
  •  One-year Transportation Levy in the amount of $1.7 million in 2015.
  • Four-year Critical Repairs/Technology levy in the following amounts: $11.4 million in 2015, $12.05 million in 2016, nearly $13.6 million in 2017, and nearly $14.9 million in 2018.

Read more

Council supports school district levies

December 24, 2013

Three Issaquah School District levies will come before voters Feb. 11. After a public hearing during its Dec. 16 regular meeting, the Issaquah City Council unanimously voted to support the ballot propositions.

Superintendent Ron Thiele and Issaquah School Board member Anne Moore gave a description of how much the levies would cost the taxpayers and how the district would spend the money.

“These three levies are absolutely critical to the level of service in our schools,” Moore said. “We have excellent Issaquah schools that are part of the community. It’s really a win-win for the city and the schools to help maintain the school level that we have.”

Read more