Thank you, voters!
As of 8:15 p.m., April 27, 2021, our levy is passing by 52.02%. You can keep track of the final vote totals at the Snohomish County Auditor’s election results page. The next round of results will be posted tomorrow at 5 p.m. and the election will be certified May 7, 2021.
Superintendent Scott Peacock thanked families and the community in this election night message.
Replacement of Educational Programs & Operations Levy
Lakewood voters must return their ballot by April 27, 2021
This proposed Replacement of Educational Programs and Operations Levy helps maintain Lakewood’s quality educational programs and opportunities for students. It is not a new tax. It is a restoration of a local levy requiring approval from voters. Historically, local levies have been approved by voters in Lakewood for the past 30 years, if not more.
As our community begins to put the pandemic behind us, our schools and students have some catching up to do. The state has directed all public schools to develop recovery plans to address social-emotional and academic gaps created during the pandemic. This levy, if approved, would help support programs to meet those needs.
Please take a moment to look through the information below. We are committed to openness and transparency. Please call (360) 652-4500 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have about this proposal.
Levy Quick Facts
- Maintains educational programs and services not fully funded by the state
- Not a new tax—replaces one that expired in 2020
- Lower than the previous tax rate
- Three-year levy: 2022-2024
- Ballots are due by April 27
What would the local replacement levy fund if it is restored?*
If approved, restoring the local levy would continue these educational programs and services:*
*In 2020, local voters did not approve two proposals to replace the local Educational Programs and Operations Levy. To continue the programs and services listed above during the current school year, budget cuts were made, and funds were withdrawn from Lakewood’s fund balance (savings account), but funds in that savings account will not last for much longer.
Why are local levy dollars needed for these educational programs and services?
Local levy dollars fill the gap—nearly 16% of the district's budget—between what it takes to provide a quality education for Lakewood students and the state money provided. In Lakewood that gap is approximately $6.4 million for this school year.
With costs rising in everything from heating classrooms to fueling buses to mowing the grass that gap is expected to grow in the future. Even with the recent McCleary court decision, state funding does not cover actual costs of helping all children learn.
Does the levy pay for staff positions above what the state funds?
Yes. Much of what the levy funds is people—additional adults helping to provide a quality education and give children the support they need in both academic and social-emotional learning. Lakewood's local levy provides nearly 16% of its annual operating budget, including an additional 42 jobs above what the state funds. If the local levy is not restored, Lakewood will continue approximately $5.9 million in cuts to programs and staff for the next 2 years.
The chart below shows examples of positions that the levy funds, based on the prototypical school model. It does not include all levy-funded positions.
What does the proposed Replacement of Educational Programs & Operations Levy cost?
School Board members unanimously agreed to ask voters to restore the local Educational Programs and Operations Levy on April 27, 2021. The 3-year proposal, beginning in 2022, features a tax rate that is 17% less than what property taxpayers paid in 2020. Rates are assessed per $1,000 of assessed property value.
The 2022-24 proposed Educational Programs & Operations Levy rate is 38 cents less per $1,000 of assessed property value than the previous levy collected in 2020. The owner of a home valued at $450,000 would pay approximately $170 less than paid in 2020 if the replacement levy is approved.
Annual levies would be $6.018 million dollars in 2022, $6.446 million in 2023 and $6.833 million in 2024. These proposed levies are significantly reduced from those presented on earlier ballot measures and represent reductions from previous rates. To be approved, a simple majority — 50% plus 1 — of local voters must agree with the proposal.
Why is this replacement levy proposal less than past ballot requests?
Due to the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and resulting economic pressures, the April 2021 proposal is about $8 million less than the previous request. The first year of proposed collection of the April 2021 proposal will not fully close the $6.4 million gap between current programs and state funding.
If the levy is restored, Lakewood schools will continue to tighten their collective belts. Rising costs such as electricity, water, fuel and staffing in 2023 and 2024 will require those belts to stay snug throughout the span of the local levy proposal.
*Without a current levy how are these educational programs and services continuing?
When an educational program and operations levy expires and has not been renewed, local taxpayers no longer are assessed the local tax. Thus in 2021 Lakewood schools opened without funding for full operations. To compensate for that lost funding in the second half of the 2020-2021 school year, several programs were reduced, including:
- Less teachers due to not filling open positions when staff retired or resigned
- Less training for teaching staff in literacy, math and social-emotional learning
- Less school safety planning and elimination of the school resource officer program
- Less learning materials and supplies and other miscellaneous services to support students and their learning.
Finally, to close the remaining gap for the 2020-21 school year, school leaders withdrew $3.3 million from the district’s fund balance (savings account), but funds in that savings account will not last for much longer.
When approved by voters, local levies are collected twice a year – spring and fall. This collection spans two school years. It is now time to close the second half of the state funding gap impacting the 2021-2022 school year.
Volunteers are meeting this spring as part of the Budget Advisory Committee to comb through the many high-quality programs and services that define a Lakewood education. These community members will offer valuable input to the administration and School Board concerning cuts required to fill the remainder of the 2021 gap for the school year beginning in September 2021.
Levy Questions & Answers
What is a replacement levy?
Why do we have local levies?
How long does a levy last?
Why is the district running this levy again after it failed twice?
How does Lakewood's local funding per student compare to other neighboring districts?
What if this levy replacement does not pass?
Have expenses gone down during the pandemic?
How has the pandemic impacted the district’s budget?
How is the district paying for additional facilities improvements after Lakewood High School?
If property values go up, do local schools get more funding?
Why is state funding inadequate?
Why is the levy election in April?
Didn't the McCleary decision require the state to fully fund education?
Does the district have unfunded mandates that the levy covers?
Does the District receive sales tax revenue from stores?
What is the difference between bonds and levies?
Why can’t schools use construction dollars to operate schools?
What do other districts in Snohomish County pay for local schools?
What is the history of community support for Lakewood schools?
Register to Vote
Residents can register to vote online up to 29 days before Election Day or in person up to 8 days before Election Day. For more information, visit the Snohomish County website.
Property Tax Exemptions
Some senior and disabled homeowners may be eligible for a property tax exemption, based on income. For details call the Snohomish County Assessor’s Office at (425) 388-3433 or visit their website.