At an upcoming special election on Feb. 8, Lake Washington School District (LWSD) will be placing three levies on the ballot to fund education programs and infrastructure spending.
The three local education levies, two expiring and one new, provide funds to pay for technology, educational enrichment, and remodeling of old facilities. The district has relied on levies because state funding cannot be utilized for these expenses. The two existing levies are due to expire in February and need to be renewed every four years.
The first levy will renew the existing Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) Levy. The funds from this levy accounts for 14% of LWSD’s overall budget. It funds early learning programs, as well as additional staffing and courses at the district’s schools.
This levy also allows students to participate in activities such as music, the arts, and athletics. Currently, the EP&O Levy funds 100% of athletic programs in the district.
“These opportunities actually connect our students to their schools, their school community, and ultimately, it leads to higher levels of success in the classroom,” said LWSD superintendent Jon Holmen during a town hall on Jan. 12.
The EP&O Levy also funds summer learning and early learning programs by covering training expenses for staff.
The second measure will replace the existing School Technology and Capital Projects Levy, which provides financial support to acquire technology resources and facility needs. This includes computers, networks and other classroom technologies.
“This levy funds 90% of the district’s needs for technology and facility upgrades. It ensures that students have access to what we call 21st century skills,” Holmen said.
This second measure also subsidizes infrastructure maintenance projects. Some of the funding is used to update aging buildings, renovate playgrounds and athletic fields, and upgrade fire safety alarm systems.
The third measure is the Building Excellence Construction Levy. This new levy will be used to build new schools to sustain a growing student population within LWSD’s boundaries.
According to the district website, LWSD has grown by 7,300 students since 2008 and is projected to grow by another 3,500 students by 2030. The levy allows the district to buy land to build more schools and classroom space.
The district plans to add a new elementary school on the Redmond Elementary campus and add more classroom spaces across middle and high schools.
The district sets a dollar amount for the levies. Currently, the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value is $2.57. This will rise to $2.84 if all three levies are passed.
Moreover, these costs do get spread out as more people and business owners move into the community.
“It is important to note that the funding that is approved by voters in these three levies actually stays within our community and it benefits the students of Lake Washington [School District],” Holmen said.
Ballots were mailed on Jan. 19. Voters will have until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 8 to turn their ballots in.