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Facts About the HSD Replacement Levy

Educational Programs and Operations Levy Last Updated: 1/25/2022 5:16 PM


At its November 29, 2021 meeting, our district’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to put a replacement levy before voters in the February 8, 2022 Special Election.

Levy dollars make up the difference between what the state provides for basic K-12 education and what it actually costs to provide students with options that prepare them for today’s careers. Here are a few key facts about this Educational Programs and Operations Levy: 

  check mark  Four-Year Levy 2023-26
  check mark  Not a new tax; replaces current levy
  check mark  Continues essential student programs & services the state doesn't fund

check mark One Levy, Four Years

Hockinson Schools pursue their commitment to prepare all students for future success in innovative and efficient ways that make the most of educational dollars. While other districts have multiple levies to pay for technology, capital projects, transportation and educational programs, Hockinson is proposing just one levy that covers all essential programs.

The four-year levy will raise: 

  • $4,075,000 in 2023 
  • $4,300,000 in 2024
  • $4,525,000 in 2025
  • $4,775,000 in 2026

The HSD has demonstrated that it maximizes funding by:

  • Expanding existing early learning opportunities (preschool and Before/After School Adventures) by adding Transitional Kindergarten at no cost to families.
  • Maintaining a graduation rate that consistently surpasses the state average. (See Student Data below.)
  • Offering two learning formats to suit the needs of each student: In-person and online learning. 
  • Equipping every secondary student with a learning device and internet access for those who need it for online learning.
     

check mark Not a New Tax

If approved, this levy will replace the existing one that expires at the end of 2022. The projected rate over the four years is: $1.89 per $1,000 assessed value. This $1.89 levy rate, though higher, is needed to cover the costs of essential student programs and services (Sports, Extracurricular Activities, Health & Safety, Transportation, Special Education, Technology, Staff, and Curriculum) at one of the lowest tax rates in Clark County. These programs keep kids engaged, putting them on a path to a brighter future.

While the rate is projected to stay flat or decrease, the district will bring in fewer local funds in the first two years of the levy, with a small increase in additional total funds for the district in 2024 and 2025. The actual impact on property owners will depend on the increase or decrease in assessed value. It is important to note that the total amount of the levy collected cannot increase even if the district’s assessed value increases. (Example: Even if home values increase significantly in 2022, the collection amount is capped at $4,075,000. In other words, the levy rate is estimated, but the amount collected is not.)
 

One of the Lowest K-12 Levy Rates in Clark County

Hockinson already shares the lowest tax rate of all K-12 districts in Clark County. At $1.89/$1,000 it will have the second-lowest combined levy rate in the area.
 

2022 School Tax Rates within Clark County

School District EP&O Levy Technology Levy Capital Levy Total Local Levy*
Green Mountain K-8 School District $1.72   $1.19 $2.91
Camas School District $2.50 $0.27   $2.77
Washougal School District $2.18   $0.25 $2.43
Woodland Public Schools $2.36     $2.36
Vancouver Public Schools $2.01 $0.33   $2.34
Battle Ground Public Schools $2.32     $2.32
Evergreen Public Schools $1.72 $0.42   $2.14
Hockinson School District $1.89**     $1.89
Ridgefield Public Schools $1.50     $1.50
La Center School District $1.50     $1.50

* These rates do not include the State Schools property tax rate ($2.94 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2021).

** This is a projected rate. It may be lower.
 

check mark Continues Essential Student Programs

Levy dollars make up the difference between what the state provides for basic K-12 education and what it actually costs to meet the needs of our students and the expectations of our community.

The levy funds essential student programs and services:

  • Technology
  • Arts, Athletics, and After-school activities
  • Building maintenance
  • Teachers and instructional support staffing
  • Social-emotional learning and support
  • Elective and Advanced Placement classes
  • Textbooks and curricula
  • Special education services
  • Security and communications

The Levy Enriches Basic Education

Levy dollars are pooled with state funds to pay for programs and services that provide opportunities beyond basic education. The levy enables the district to supply technology to students, offer a variety of electives, maintain facilities, and provide staff who enhance learning experiences and coach athletics and activities. (Costs based on the 2021-22 estimated budget.)

$1.28 million Educational support

  • Staff
  • Transportation 
  • Music and art
  • Elective classes
  • Health services
  • Professional development
  • Substitutes

$993,000 Student learning and activities

  • Athletics and after-school activities
  • Coaches and Advisors
  • Textbooks and curricula
  • Social-emotional learning
  • AP program and Electives

$871,000 Technology, Health, Safety & Maintenance

  • Educational technology equipment and staff
  • Security equipment and staff
  • Websites, calling software, and communications
  • Asset preservation
  • Grounds and building maintenance
  • Custodial supplies, equipment, and staff
  • Facilities improvements
  • Utilities and insurance

$935,000 Special Education services

  • Special education teachers
  • Special education assistants
  • Instructional materials and supplies

The Levy Provides Staff to Support Students

Much of what the levy pays for is people. People are key to providing a quality education and getting students the support they need in both academics and social-emotional support. Hockinon’s levy provides additional staffing above what the state funds.
 

This chart shows examples of positions that the levy funds in 2021-22, based on the prototypical school model. It is not inclusive of all levy-funded positions.

Position

State funds

Actual Positions

Nurses ensure student's medical needs are met during the school day.

0.308

1.9

Psychologists help students perform better academically by providing counseling and special education services.

0.045

2

Security personnel 

0.391

3

Technology Support Staff run software and network systems and support students and staff with instructional technology.

1.16

3.25

Athletic Coaches and Advisors supervise student sports and activities outside the classroom.

0

46


Election Information

Register online by Jan. 31. Residents can register to vote online up to 29 days before Election Day or in person up to 8 days before Election day. Clark County voter registration information is online at https://clark.wa.gov/elections/registering-vote.

Property tax exemptions are available. Some senior and disabled homeowners may be eligible for a property tax exemption, based on income. Please call the Clark County Assessor’s Office at (564) 397-2391 for details.


FAQs

Is this a new tax?

This is not a new tax. If approved, this levy will replace the current levy set to expire at the end of 2022 and will continue to fund essential student programs. The levy rate ($1.89) is higher, but will still be the second-to-lowest of Clark County’s ten school districts. If passed, this levy will allow current essential programs and services to continue. Levies do not pay for new school construction. 
 

Would we pay for the current levy and the one on the ballot at the same time?

No. The current levy expires Dec. 31, 2022. The proposed levy would replace the current levy so that the two would NOT be collected at the same time. The proposed levy will allow the district to maintain current student programs and services for which the state does not fund or provide sufficient funding.
 

What will this levy cost?

If approved by voters, the four-year levy will collect: $4,075,000 in 2023, $4,300,000 in 2024, $4,525,000 in 2025, and $4,775,000 in 2026. The district cannot collect more than these amounts, even if the district’s assessed value increases. The tax rate for the levy is projected to be $1.89 for all four years and could be lower. 

A property assessed at $450,000, for example, would pay $851 in taxes for this levy in 2023. The actual impact on property owners will depend on the increase or decrease in assessed value, as well as the amount of growth in the district from new homes.
 

Why do we have levies?

The state does not fully fund the programs that are an essential part of student success in today’s world. In 2018, the state changed the way it funds public education by lowering local school taxes, NOT eliminating local school levies. The state authorizes school districts to levy up to $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed value for local control of student programs.
 

What is levy equalization?

Levy equalization is money the state gives to “property-poor” school districts that approve levies. Hockinson is a property-poor school district with little industry that usually has a higher assessed value than residential property. Levy equalization money goes only to school districts that pass a levy. Under the current levy, which expires in December 2022, Hockinson Schools receives about $475,000 in levy equalization each year.
 

Does the levy pay for unfunded mandates?

Yes. The HSD is required by law to provide services that the state does not fund. For example, in the current school year, levy funds pay for about $1.05 million in special education services. Additionally, the district must now also cover the cost of state-mandated health benefits that are not fully funded by the state. 
 

What if the levy doesn't pass?

The levy provides approximately 11% of the district’s budget. An annual loss of $4 million in local funding would require the district to make cuts to student programs and services that could result in:

  • Larger class sizes—staff reductions & furloughs

  • Increased time on buses & fewer routes

  • Loss of music, art, theater & academic extracurricular funding

  • Outdated textbooks & instructional materials

  • Limited technology

  • Fewer support staff—less assistance for technology, recess, school offices, custodial, grounds & more

  • Elimination of programs & fewer class choices

  • Fewer activities & sports with higher fees

  • Reduction in social emotional supports

  • Reduced supply & building budgets

  • Deferred building maintenance

  • Cuts from general education to reallocate funds for state-mandated
    programs such as special education.


How do the overall levy and bond rates compare across Clark County school districts?

The below chart illustrates current levy and bond rates and the proposed $1.89 EP&O Levy rate for Hockinson Schools. The HSD's total levy rate would be the second-lowest in the county and the fourth-lowest overall.

School District EP&O Levy Technology Levy Bond Capital Levy Total Local Bond & Levy
Camas School District $2.50 $0.27 $1.97   $4.74
Washougal School District $2.18   $1.85 $0.25 $4.29
La Center School District $1.50   $2.65   $4.15
Woodland Public Schools $2.36   $1.56   $3.92
Evergreen Public Schools $1.72 $0.42 $1.76   $3.90
Vancouver Public Schools $2.01 $0.33 $1.37   $3.71
Hockinson School District $1.89   $1.77   $3.66
Ridgefield Public Schools $1.50   $1.68   $3.18
Green Mountain K-8 School District $1.72     $1.19 $2.92
Battle Ground Public Schools $2.32   $0.56   $2.88


How will the 2022 total tax rate compare to previous tax rates?

As illustrated below, the total amount of school taxes collected has been the lowest (2019-2021) in the past decade. As a result of the McCleary funding transition, Hockinson’s funding from state and local sources was lower than anticipated. This has left Hockinson in a more difficult financial position than almost any other school district in the area, resulting in three consecutive years of budget and program reductions. The proposed $1.89/$1,000 levy rate will not restore all cuts from 2017-19, but will help the district balance its budgets moving forward. 
 

school tax rate history


What percentage of the total HSD budget comes from the levy?

The levy accounts for approximately 11% of Hockinson's total budget. In 2020-21, it provided $2,685,783 for essential student programs and services. As a property-poor school district, the HSD also received $476,150 in levy equalization from the state. 

pie chart
 

Is there tax relief for people on a fixed income?

Some seniors and disabled homeowners may be eligible for a property tax exemption based on income. Please contact the Clark County Assessor’s Office at (360) 397-2391 or taxreduction@clark.wa.gov. Online: https://clark.wa.gov/assessor/property-tax-relief-programs.
 

How has the pandemic impacted the district's budget?

During the pandemic, the district has been able to reduce some expenditures, but other costs have increased. For example, while the HSD saved some money last year on transportation and utilities, it spent significantly more on personal protective equipment, technology and training for remote learning as well as online curricula and materials. 
 

Didn't the state fully fund education?

School funding is a work in progress. In 2018, after the McCleary decision, state legislators changed property taxes with the intent of fully funding basic education and lowering local school taxes, NOT eliminating local school levies. The state increased what it collects in property taxes for basic education statewide, and capped what school districts can collect locally. As a result, Hockinson’s levy rate decreased from $3.42 in 2018 to $1.50 from 2019-21.
 

Why is state funding inadequate?

There are several areas of education that the state does not fully fund as part of basic education. Examples include technology, special education services, social-emotional learning, building maintenance, elective classes and Advanced Placement programs, and athletics and student activities. Districts are left to figure out how to pay for these services and programs on their own.

Additionally, the state does not fund all the staff necessary to provide essential services and programs to students. The state’s funding formula for K–12 education, called the Prototypical School Funding Model, sets student-to-staff ratios based on a study completed in 1975. Education is vastly different 45 years later, but the Prototypical School Funding Model has not been updated to account for modern educational needs.
 

What is the difference between a levy and a bond measure?

In general, levies provide for learning, maintenance and operations and bonds go to construct buildings. Hockinson voters last approved a bond in 2015 to finance the construction of Hockinson Middle School as well as other additions and improvements. Payments for that bond drop considerably in 2026 and it will be completely paid in December 2034.


Didn’t the district receive COVID-19 relief funds?

COVID School emergency relief (ESSER) funds were allocated to schools from the federal government to address the impacts that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on K-12 education across the nation. Because these funds were distributed according to a district’s poverty index, Hockinson received far less per-pupil funding compared to other districts in our area. For example, Hockinson received $495 per student versus $3,361 per student in Vancouver Public Schools.

esser allocation


Where can I find additional information about the levy?

A levy information presentation will be shared on January 11, 2022 at 6:30 PM. A levy flyer will also be mailed to HSD families in the middle of January 2022. Below are some details about the upcoming levy and its multiple benefits to Hockinson students:

Nov. 29, 2021 Educational Programs & Operations Levy Resolution

Nov. 30, 2021 Press Release

Citizens Advisory Committee Informational Presentations:

Oct. 4, 2021 HSD Safety & Budget Presentations: https://youtu.be/W0yosKLje68

Nov. 2, 2021 HSD Transportation & Learning Support Presentations: https://youtu.be/v__TmZs6RqY

Dec. 6, 2021 HSD Maintenance/Operations & Technology Presentations: https://youtu.be/nA6hCaBzYNU

Jan. 3, 2022 HHS Athletics & Activities Presentation: https://youtu.be/5CFIIXmQ5Kc

 

Additional Information

Hockinson Levy Mailer

Click the image below to view the full trifold:

hockinson levy mailer

 

Jan. 18, 2002 HSD Levy Information Night

For those who were unable to virtually attend the 1/18 Levy Information Night, the recording of the live presentation and Q & A regarding the upcoming Feb. 8, 2022 Educational Programs & Operations Levy is available below:

slide from presentation