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1. What does the Educational Programs & Operations Levy pay for?
Nurses at all schools (6 total; basic education pays for just one across all MISD)
7 period day at MIHS (allows wider set of class options and electives beyond basic graduation requirements)
Advanced science courses
Fine arts, music, club and programs at all schools
These comprise 17% of the school budget, and 40% of the Special Education budget.
2. What does the Capital and Technology Levy pay for?
Computer equipment, training and access to online textbooks for students and staff
Renovations and improvements to school roofs, building infrastructure, classrooms, athletic fields, playgrounds, and other maintenance requirements
Enhance and maintain school safety and security
Much-needed refresh of locker rooms, deck and viewing area of the public Mary Wayte pool
Resurfacing and lighting of MIHS tennis courts, available to all community members
Preparing bus lot for electric school buses for a cleaner environment
3. Who decides where the funding goes?
School budgets are designed and spent by school district administrators, led by the district Superintendent. Funds from the levies are incorporated into the overall budget used to operate the schools each year. The school district’s board of directors oversees the work of the Superintendent and approves the budget.
4. HOW MUCH WILL THESE LEVIES COST THE AVERAGE MERCER ISLANDER?
Here are the property tax implications for current and future school levies, which show a number of scenarios, explained in detail below. These are facts prepared by the Mercer Island School District. For the Educational Programs & Operations Levy Renewal (EP&O), the allowable amount is controlled by the state and is the same for all districts (except for Seattle School District which has a loophole for a larger maximum amount). MISD cannot levy more funds than another district. The rate is calculated by the average annual enrollment (taken in June each year) x $2500 (with inflation) per student = Max levy amount collected by each district. An "Enrollment Stabilization” Bill in WA State Legislature has allowed 2019-2020 numbers for 2021 & 2022 to give districts extra funds. There is a bill in the current WA State Legislature's short session (set to end in March) which would extend this Enrollment Stabilization for 2 more years - 2023 and 2024. If this stabilization continues for 2023, the levy will stay the same at around $11.4M. If not, EP&O taxes will decrease with decreased enrollment to levy funds of $10.7M in 2023 (10% reduction) and going down to $10.2M in 2026 (19% reduction from current rates). The 2019-2020 average enrollment was 4,358. Current average enrollment is 3,950. 2023 rate per student is $2500 plus inflation = $2722 per student. Districts collects levy funds in April & October. Total property on MI is valued at $15.4B. Your ballot will say “$12M” as all districts ask for authorization for slightly higher amount in case legislature makes it allowable, but not likely will ever be this high. The “Levy Rate” is Levy Amount x 1,000 /$15.4B = amount assessed per $1,000 of property. For the renewal of the 6-year Capital Projects/Technology Levy, there is an increase over the 2016 levy amount due to increased costs in staffing, construction and technology. Here is an explanation of the property tax charts provided by MISD on the website.
Chart A shows the EP&O levy rates at the Max Allowable collection rate of $12 million per year, which is a very unlikely scenario. It also shows that the Capital Projects/Technology Levy will increase about $72 per million dollars of your home by the 2028. So, if your home is worth $2M, you will pay $150 more dollars in 2028 than you did in 2022 for the Capital Projects/Technology Levy portion of your property taxes.
Chart B shows the EP&O levy rates at the Estimated Enrollment collection rate and shows a significant decrease in 2023-2026 taxes. This assumes no Enrollment Stabilization measure is passed by the Washington State Legislature.
Chart C shows the EP&O levy rates at the Max Allowable collection rate, unlikely scenario.
Chart D shows the EP&O levy rates, projected enrollment and tax decreases (from 10-19%) for 2023-2026 assuming no Enrollment Stabilization measure is passed.
Chart E shows the Capital Projects/Tech levy rates, which do have an increase over current rates. Rates will go up 13% in 2023 from 2022 rates. This rate increase is driven by increased costs in staff, construction and technology costs over the prior levy from 2016.
5. HOW MANY OTHER SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN OUR STATE HAVE SIMILAR LEVIES?
99% of districts in Washington State pass levies just like these. This is the way that local taxes fund our schools.