• Othello School District 2020 Replacement Levy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    What is the difference between a bond and levy?

    The best way to differentiate between a bond and levy is to remember that Bonds are for Buildings and Levies are for Learning. School bonds provide immediate funds for large, long-term capital projects, such as modernization of buildings, new school construction or purchasing property. 

    Levies bridge the gap between state and federal funding and the actual cost of operating a school district. Levies support basic educational programs and services. Levies greatly contribute to our annual operating budget and support student learning, health and safety, athletics, instructional support, technology, music and arts, early learning programs, operations and maintenance. 

    Does the Replacement Educational Programs and Operation (EP&O) Levy on the February 11, 2020 ballot fund facility needs?

    No, the proposed replacement EP&O levy does not fund facility needs. This levy will fund programs and operations of the district such as athletics, nursing, custodians, maintenance services, technology, security, teaching staff, curriculum updates, early learning programs, community education, staff professional development, etc. The state of Washington either underfunds or does not fund these programs. 

    What did the prior 2018-2020 EP&O levy (formerly known as the Maintenance and Operations Levy) pay for?

    On November 9, 2016, during a board workshop, the community was informed that the M&O Levy would support the following:

    • Instruction: Curriculum updates, technology, professional development and mentoring.
    • Compensation: Costs beyond state funding such as certificated wages and benefits, classified wages and benefits, administrator/director wages and benefits, and substitute wages.
    • Programs: Preschool, Ready For Kindergarten, extra curricular, HiCap, AVID, after school programs and summer school. 
    • Operations: Student health services, safety, facility maintenance and technology. 

    Please click here to view the presentation. 

    Additionally, the Othello School District mailed out to the community a publication that provided important details about the funding measure for schools, which lists the specific programs and operations the levy would fund. Click here to view the mailer.

    How much levy dollars go into funding the OSD Preschool program?

    During the 2018-2019 school year, the total actual costs spent on funding the preschool program was only about 1.2% of overall district expenses.

    Preschool expenses represented 6.1% of the amount received from Levy and LEA (state matching funds) from 2018-2019, which amount to a total cost of $445,766.60. Preschool expenses include READY! for Kindergarten, LEARN Academy, Dolly Parton Foundation, preschool teaching staff salaries, and more. 

    levy pie chart

    Is the district allowed to use state and local money to fund preschool?

    Yes. The state and federal government provides funding specifically for preschool programs:

    • ECEAP (pronounced "E-Cap") is the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program funded by Washington State for children 3 and 4.
    • Head Start is funded by the federal government for children ages 3 and 4 and, in some locations, pregnant women and children birth to age 3.

    While both ECEAP and Head Start preschool programs are funded by state and federal dollars, these programs have specific eligibility requirements based on income, etc. To assure that ALL Othello children have access to a high-quality preschool education, Othello School District also operates a district preschool program for children.

    The federal government, Washington State and Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) have made early learning throughout the State of Washington a priority.  Governor Jay Inslee recently shared that he believes “The importance of kindergarten readiness cannot be overstated. Children who arrive at kindergarten with the skills needed to engage in classroom learning and activities are far more likely to be successful in kindergarten and beyond. Supporting families to help their children be ready for kindergarten is a critical component of our efforts to close the educational opportunity gap in Washington.”

    One of Governor Inslee’s recent directives to the Washington State Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF) was to collaborate with OSPI to identify strategies to improve the alignment and integration of high-quality early learning programs administered by both agencies. According to the Washington State Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF), children who attend preschool programs like ECEAP and Head Start learn to manage their feelings, get along with others and follow classroom procedures. They build the beginning skills for reading, math and science. Children in enrolled in early care and education nationwide are:

    • More likely to graduate from high school and go on to college.
    • Less likely to become pregnant as a teen or become involved in a crime.
    • Less likely to be in special education or repeat a grade in school.
    • Healthier when they start kindergarten.

    What are the rates this year compared to last year?

    The Othello School District levy proposal is asking for $1.53 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2021 and 2022 and $1.55 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2023. Last year’s levy collection amount was nearly identical to the proposed rate at $1.50 per $1,000. Proposed levy replacement rates are significantly lower than historical levels when rates were between $2.33 - $2.38 per $1,000 between 2016 and 2018.

    OSD has worked hard to minimize the burden on local taxpayers through thoughtful planning of its proposed funding measure. Although the state of Washington legally allows school districts to collect as much as $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value, the Othello School District levy proposal is only asking for between $1.53 and $1.55 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

    Is this a new or replacement tax?

    The proposed three-year replacement levy is not a new tax, but simply the continuation of an existing, voter-approved funding measure that expires in 2020.

    What does this mean to me as a taxpayer?

    This means that, if approved, the levy rate would be nearly identical to the rate you have been paying since 2019.