OLYMPIA – School districts could go to the voters to approve larger levy increases, under three bills heard this week by the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.
As a budget deficit looms for small school districts, Sen. Liz Lovelett (D-Anacortes) sponsored three bills to offer districts different ways to access more funding. Many districts across the state have reported budget shortages after a cap was implemented in 2018 as part of the McCleary compromise in the Legislature.
“While the Legislature passed a bill in 2019 that provided relief for most of our school districts, several smaller ones continue to struggle to fund programs important to their students,” Lovelett said. “Any community willing to pay for it deserves the opportunity to express their support with their vote.”
In many districts, voters have approved levies higher than what the state currently allows. Each bill has a different approach to allow for increased levy capacity:
- SB 6344 would allow school districts to choose either an enrichment levy lid of $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed value or the maximum per pupil limit, rather than the lesser of the two.
- SB 6477 would allow school districts to use either the current levy lid or a levy lid equal to the district’s voter-approved maintenance and operation levy.
- SB 6533 would expand the maximum per pupil enrichment levy limit of $3,000 to all school districts, rather than only those with 40,000 or more students.
“Leaving the levy system as it is now creates more cuts to programs that our community wants to provide to its students,” said Lovelett. “We need to keep those programs funded and continue to fight for parity among our school districts so that no students are left behind.”
For information: Courtney James, Senate Democratic Caucus Communications, (360)-786-7853