Levy critical to maintain services in Federal Way school district

Levy critical to maintain services in school district

On Feb. 13, voters will be asked to renew an educational programs and operations levy to keep funding for existing classroom teachers, security, nurses, bus drivers, counselors and educational programs beyond what the state provides for basic education.

This levy is not a new tax. This is to renew a levy that voters have continually supported since 1980.

The Federal Way Public Schools Board of Education and superintendent are committed to reducing the tax burden on local property owners. Levies play a critical role in supporting programs and staff, and this levy is structured in a way that allows local taxpayers to receive a significant tax savings for the first time in a long time.

If approved, this EP&O replacement levy would reduce taxes beginning in 2019. Local property owners will see a tax decrease of 37 percent, and the average homeowner will pay $570 less per year. The tax rate decreases from an estimated $3.58 to $1.50 per $1,000 assessed value.

I would like to thank voters for approving the recent school construction bond. It’s important for the community to know the difference between bonds and levies. Bonds build new schools, and levies support learning such as educational programs and staffing.

None of the replacement levy funds will be used for buildings; it is a critical funding source to keep existing staff and programs to adequately meet our scholars’ needs. The EP&O levy is 10 percent of the district’s overall budget and pays for approximately 300 staff positions and educational programs.

For example, the state funds 3.5 nurses, and the EP&O levy funds the remaining 19 nurses needed to care for our students. The EP&O levy also funds educational programs like special education and English language learner services, music offerings, coaches and advisers for activities such as athletics and after-school programs.

Levies help fill the gap between what the state funds and what the needs are to support a safe and supportive learning environment for the district — all 38 sites and 23,000 scholars.

Please continue your ongoing commitment to, and support of, education as you have done since 1980. As a member of the Citizens for Federal Way Schools committee, I am asking you to vote yes on Feb. 13 to approve this EP&O replacement levy.

Claire Wilson

President, FWPS Board of Education

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