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SCHOOLS: Do voters understand levy math?

Letter by Jerry E. Gibbs, Gig Harbor on Jan. 27, 2012 at 11:03 am with 17 Comments »
January 27, 2012 1:24 pm

Voters will soon be casting a ballot for local school levies. Levy rate formulas confuse people, possibly by design. As you review the voters pamphlet and your head spins remember this:

• The Legislature recently allowed districts to raise the levy rate cap to 28.9 percent from 24.9 percent. Districts can tax you more to make up for the cuts in education made by the Legislature which takes pressure off legislators that voted to cut schools.

• Don’t focus on only the levy rate. It’s a moving number affected by home values. Focus on the levy amount to see a tax increase. If the levy amount increases from year to year you can calculate the tax increase. Your home value could go down but the levy rate just increases because the levy amount is a fixed number.

• Review your school’s budget for the growth rate from year to year. Are the budget increases sustainable into the future? Do they exceed the inflation rate? You may be surprised what you find.

• Have districts placed the quality of our schools in jeopardy by running the levies now? Churn in Olympia and headlines of all the other tax increases create pause for voters who normally approve levies.

Also ensure that your district has a plan B if the levy fails. They should be ready to activate bold reforms to make up the difference and not just make cuts that hurt the kids, parents and the quality of our schools.

Leave a comment Comments → 17
  1. BigSwingingRichard says:

    In other words, after the State Supreme court ruled that the legislature has failed to fully fund basic education, AND they ruled the local districts have been illegally funding basic education with local levy taxes, the districts and the State is INCREASING what has been ruled to be illegal.

    Taxpayers are also responsible by for our funding mess by passing too many and too large of levies.

    The legislators are not going to fund what other’s already foolishly pay for.

  2. truthbusterguy says:

    The Peninsula School District sure took advantage of the increase in the levy rate hikes. Heck, bet they lobbied Kilmer, who supported the legislation and voted to approve. As a show of appreciation Kilmer cut the district $1.9 million because he knew the wimpy voters in Gig Harbor would never vote against the levy and replace that money. Kilmer will always say, “It’s only for the children”.

    The fact that they went from 22% to 29% with this levy goes to their unquenchable money hungry thirst for our tax dollars. Their budgets go higher and even after the voters rejected a levy last Feb. they come at us again because they won’t make the reforms necessary to stop the uncontrollable increases in spending.

    I will vote no for the first time. And will never vote for a PSD bond or levy until they control cost and listen to parents instead of the unions. Thank goodness more parents to vote than the unions.

    Even President Obama said today that schools can’t just keep raising tuition (or a tax) on parents. He said schools must do their part to bring down cost. Well, I am waiting for Peninsula District to do that. Until that day I will be a NO vote. You can send that message too by voting NO.

  3. sandblower says:

    Yup, hold the kids hostage because you have no idea what school funding is really all about. I have seen this nonsense from deniers for too long and I hope the insightful and intelligent folks will prevail.
    The Supremes did not find that school districts could not continue with their levys under the present circumstances. Saying otherwise is dishonest in the extreme, but no surprise.

  4. Sandblower, you are able to vote yes if you want to be that naive but ours will be a NO vote now and forever. Give me a break: “hold the children hostage”!!! You are getting more absurd with every comment you post!

  5. sandblower says:

    So, darlin, who will suffer the most if your NO vote prevails? I’ll give you a hint. It will not be teachers, administrators, school board members or any other adult. That does not leave much from which to choose. Check your blinders. They might be too tight.

  6. truthbusterguy says:

    Real reforms can be the same as added dollars. But schools will not reform until forced to do so. Unions will not deal until taxpayers cut them off. Now si the time and a NO will will force these real reforms to finally happen because parents will not allow the doors to close or larger class size. They have been punished by districts before but those days are over. They will say to school boards, time to take on your unions, not the taxpayers. Look at what is happening with Tacoma fire and police. They will deal when forced. It;s the teachers turn. It’s time for them to pay, “their fair share”.

  7. ItalianSpring says:

    Big Swinging Richard- You are so right on.

  8. Sandblowhard, I would bet that you are not a property owner. Isn’t 60% of my property tax that already goes to schools enough for you??? This is not a fair tax, it has been found to be an illegal tax by our courts and there will never be a yes vote from this household, unless, tell you what: You pay my property tax, then maybe I will change my mind. Nah, never mind, bad idea! Any one with a brain that realize how much of OUR money the schools waste will vote NO NO> Get it yet??? NO more taxes, period.

  9. sandblower says:

    Thanks Darlin for proving my assessment of how tight your blinders are.
    Way too easy.
    FYI, I own a house in N. Tacoma and pay the appropriate property tax. I will pay more to keep our schools going as best they can under the circumstances. Having educated children coming out of them is too important to neglect. I have confidence that the school system is doing the best they can with the resources they have and that they are constantly working to improve.
    You need to switch from your inbred cynicism to a little dose of optimism. Life is so much more pleasant.

  10. taxedenoughintacoma says:


    80% of the new levy money will go to people. That is code of payments to a broken defined benefit retirement plan and cadallic health care cost. The grip if the unions over the school boards will never change until we put schools in the same situtation as the city of Tacoma.

    ONLY when faced with union layoffs will the union make a deal. Their greed is never reported to the taxpayers but their actions when faced with budget realities tells the truth.

    Taxpaye can not enable a broken public sector system any longer. Be it schools, fir, cops, or filling pot holes. Past due for the day we make big refoms to rein in these cost of benefits the unions have bought with huge contributions that elected their bosses, that sign contracts that I have to pay for. NO MORE, I will be voting NO on every ballot issue that enables this corruption to continue. We have reached that, “line in the sand”. The cubboards are empty and that’s a fact.

  11. Sorry sand blowhard, you are in the minority here. If you have the extra money to pay more for the schools to only waste our money, go for it. As for me, there is no extra. The schools need to spend wisely, get back to basics and to function with what they are blessed with, period. My vote stands at NO, NO, NO, and Hell NO,get it?

  12. scooter6139 says:

    Darlin, can’t you just post without name calling? It just makes you look immature. If you don’t support public education just say so.

  13. Sorry scooter, I thought I was just stooping down to sb’ers level and you are right. It isn’t that I do not support public education but that levy’s are a totally unfair tax and as stated before, 60% of my exorborant property taxes already go to the schools, isn’t that enough? My NO VOTE stands!!!

  14. (exorbitant)

  15. truthbusterguy says:

    All the residents on my street met last night to discuss the very important levy. There were 13 voters in the room. Most with kids in the district. Most were YES votes when they first sat down and have never voted against a levy here in GH. It was amazing how many of their kids had come home with horror stories told to them by their teachers. The kids had the fear factor of the levy programmed into their little heads from union teacher talking points. But the facts convinced parents to all vote NO.

    After an hour of discussion and looking at the facts everyone in the room voted NO. Brave parents have had it and said now is the time to draw a line in the sand with the school district and force them to make changes. Hope others in GH will do this. I am sure you will come up with the same conclusion and all vote NO.

  16. ReadNLearn says:

    Just vote no.

    Throwing money at the problems doesn’t help.

  17. oldguysrule says:


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