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.