Kate Davis, executive director of business and capital projects for Olympia School District, met with the OSD board yesterday for the first reading of Resolution 654, which outlines the replacement of the district’s expiring Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) Levies for 2024.
The EP&O levies are a form of property taxes OSD puts forward, which the community then votes for to “enrich” the program of basic education as narrowly defined by the legislature.
“It often does support some of those activities that the state gives us, basic education, because the state has fallen short,” said Davis.
EP&O levies are replaced every four years. OSD typically puts the levy items on the February ballot, and it only requires a simple majority of 50% + 1, with no validation requirement.
“Our operating levy is 16% of our revenue. $28.8 million is in our budget for the 23-24 year. We collect about a 45-55 split between the spring and fall collections, from one calendar year and the other,” Davis said.
“The state sets a limit of what we're allowed to collect (levy lid). And it is the lesser of $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $2,500 per pupil adjusted for inflation, which is now $2,988. Olympia School District follows the per-pupil model,” Davis said.
The district can put a higher or lower amount on the ballot, and if approved, this will be known as the “Voter Approved Levy.”
OSD will set this levy through enrollment projections, inflation forecasts, and assessed property value trends and projections.
“We also look at what are the needs [of] our students and to support the overall operations, and that all gets factored into how much is put on the ballot,” added Davis.
The district can only collect the lower of the Voter Approved Levy or the levy lid the state has set. When the district collects less than the voters approved, this is known as “rollback.”
“We've had a history of approving more than [what] we're actually allowed to collect. That ensures that we're able to fully collect whatever is allowed, and then we don't leave any funds on the table,” said Davis.
“First off, we use our funds to support our teachers and other staff to make sure everybody has market-based salaries,” said Davis. “It includes all the professional learning and the collaboration time that happens throughout the school year.”
The funds are also used for additional staffing, various course offerings, and program opportunities.
Sports, clubs, and extracurriculars are funded through a combination of fundraising, family support, and local levy support.
The resolution contains the Proposed EP&O Levy Replacement rates for 2024-2028.
OSD will hold the second reading of Resolution 654 on October 26, advertise for the “Pro” and “Con” Committee in early November, and submit the resolution to the Thurston County Auditor on December 15.
This schedule is subject to change after having more information for the February 2024 Election.
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