FWPS EP&O levy will ease tax burden for residents

Feb. 13 measure would continue funding staff, educational programs crucial for district

Tammy Campbell

Tammy Campbell

With the existing Educational Programs & Operations levy set to expire in 2018, the Federal Way Public Schools Board unanimously approved a resolution on Nov. 28 to continue to fund essential staff and educational programs beyond what state funding offers under basic education.

This replacement levy is not a new tax and the community has continuously supported

Federal Way Public Schools’ EP&O levy since 1980. The FWPS superintendent and board of directors are committed to reducing the tax burden and as a result, local property owners will see a 37 percent decrease with the proposed EP&O levy.

“The board recognizes the critical role levies play in supporting programs and staff like special education services, classroom teachers, nurses and security which is key to accomplishing the larger goals we set for Federal Way Public Schools,” said Geoffery McAnalloy, FWPS board president. “The board believes it’s important the replacement levy is structured in a way that allows local taxpayers to receive a tax savings for the first time in a long time.”

Local property owners residing in Federal Way School District will experience a significant tax decrease because of the replacement levy while maintaining the staff and educational programs needed for a safe and supportive learning environment.

Key facts about the replacement EP&O levy and reduction in taxes are as follows:

• The four-year replacement EP&O levy results in a significant tax decrease for local property owners beginning in 2019 and beyond.

• This levy reduces taxes by $20 million each year. This means the average homeowner will pay about $570 LESS starting in 2019.

• The tax rate will decrease from an estimated $3.58 to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The EP&O levy makes up 10 percent of the district’s budget, and has been continuously approved by voters since 1980. If approved again, the EP&O replacement levy would continue to fund safe, supportive learning environments for all scholars including:

• Essential staff like classroom teachers, nurses, security staff, counselors, and bus drivers for approximately 300 staff members.

• Educational programs like special education and English Language Learner services.

• Athletics and after school programs.

Levies are for learning and help fill the gap between what the state funds and what the needs are to support a safe and supportive learning environment for a district of 38 sites and 23,000 students. The state funds three and a half nurses, and the EP&O levy fills in the gap by funding the remaining 19 positions needed to adequately care for our scholars. Additionally, the state funds four security staff positions, and the levy provides funding for the remaining 12 positions needed.

Washington state collects a statewide schools tax. For one-year only — 2018 — property owners across the state will pay more because of the increase in the State Schools Tax.

The estimated annual state schools tax increase is $85 for the average Federal Way School District homeowner. In 2019, even when considering the state schools tax and the EP&O replacement levy, it’s still an anticipated reduction of $486 in taxes for the average homeowner. Locally approved levies will not increase in 2018.

FWPS has a strategic plan with five big, bold goals that journey from the early years and persist to graduation. The EP&O levy supports all five goals. In FWPS, we have a track record of fiscal responsibility and are good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

The EP&O levy measure, which will appear on the February 13, 2018 special election ballot, requires a simple majority vote of 50 percent plus one voter approval. Please remember to vote.

Questions or comments? Call 253-945-2000, or email comments@fwps.org.

Dr. Tammy Campbell is the Federal Way Public Schools superintendent.

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