FAQ’s

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why should I vote for the levy?
Mercer Islanders have a long tradition of supporting excellence in education, which has resulted in our schools consistently being rated among the top in the state. This 4-year levy replaces one that expires in 2018 and will provide continued funding for critical programs. It is projected to raise between $11.75 and $12.75 million per year, and will comprise 20% of the school district’s annual budget and 38% of the Special Education budget. Levy funds will go toward maintaining our existing levels of educational standards across all schools: a 7 period day at the high school, advanced science and fine arts at both the high school and middle school, and Elementary K-5 Music, Art, PE, and Spanish. The funds enable us to invest in our dedicated teachers and staff by paying for professional development as well as stipends to lead after-school clubs at all levels. The past several levies were overwhelmingly approved by Mercer Island voters. This levy has the endorsement of all seven school PTA’s and current and former school board directors. Please vote yes to keep our schools among the best in the state.

What will our local levy pay for?

    Transporting students safely to and from school (backfilling what the state does not cover)
    Qualified substitute teachers
    7 period day at HS
    Expanded electives at HS and IMS
    FTE to support students in the online learning program at CREST
    Smaller class sizes for “focus” sections for struggling students or very specific
    Ongoing professional development opportunities for staff in a myriad of areas
    Stipends for staff to offer additional opportunities for students
    Afterschool clubs and activities at all grade levels including Destination Imagination, student interest clubs such as coding, community service, etc.
    Athletic opportunities beyond what ASB covers
    Enhanced library collections
    Some curriculum materials
    Classified support in classrooms with overloads, additional Special Education/English Language Learning students, as well as student supervision and safety
    Special Education, 38% of Special Education funding comes from local levy
    Elementary K-5 Music, Art, PE and Spanish

What is the Levy Schedule?
School funding is regulated by law. Levies and bonds are issued for specific purposes and funds cannot be used for items outside of what was approved by voters.

Every fourth year, the school district runs a maintenance and operations (M&O) levy to fund educational programs and staff that are not funded by the state.

Every sixth year, the school district runs two levies:

  • Six-Year Capital Projects and Technology Levy (called Capital Projects Levy)
  • One-Year Transportation Levy

When do the current levies expire?
The current Maintenance and Operations Levy expires in 2018.

The current Capital Projects and Technology levy expires at the end of 2022.

If approved, this replacement Educational M&O Levy will also expire in 2022.

What is the Levy Pass/Fail History?
None of these levies have failed in recent history.

On February 22, 2016 all levies passed as follows:

  • School Capital Projects Levy 74.17%
  • School Transportation Levy 77.44%

On February 11, 2014 all levies and bonds passed as follows:

  • Educational Maintenance and Operations Levy 76.77%
  • 2014 $98,800,000 Construction Bond 74.07%

In 2010, the District ran all three levies at the same time and they passed as follows:

  • Maintenance and Operations Levy   69.75%
  • Capital Projects Levy             65.32%
  • Transportation Levy               70.26%

How much is being raised?
This is a replacement of the current M&O levy that meets the requirements of the WA State Supreme Court and Legislators.

  • Educational Maintenance and Operations Levy: $1.00 per $1000 of assessed value

The total raised will be between $11.75 and $12.75 million per year for four years.  The actual amount collected from residents is based on the number of students enrolled and the amount, per student, allowed by the state.  Currently MISD is allowed to collect $2,500 per student.

In 2017, under the old tax code, a $1 million home would have paid about $4,438 in taxes to fund schools throughout WA and locally. In 2019, when the new tax code is fully operational, a $1 million home will pay about $4,684 in taxes for schools. If property values increase, your school district tax rates will decrease because the school district is authorized to collect a specific dollar amount.

More details are here under the heading School Funding Tax Details.

I want the raw facts. When was this levy discussed by the School Board?
The School Board has discussed and provided opportunities for public input at numerous times during development of the 4-year replacement levy, such televised and publicly available videos and agenda items include:

i) The Thursday, Sept. 28 MISD Board Meeting in which a school funding information was discussed in reference to developing a levy resolution. This discussion is roughly bookended between the 3 minute and 60 minute of the video of the Board Meeting.

ii) The Thursday Oct. 12 MISD Board Meeting which represented the 1st reading of the levy resolution and was discussed between the 55 minute and 1hr and 8 minute video of the Board Meeting.

iii) The Thursday October 26 MISD Board and City of Mercer City Council Joint Study Meeting. Financial information regarding the school levy was presented and discussed from the 7min mark to the 1hr 20min mark.

iv) The Thursday October 26 MISD Board Meeting which represented the 2nd reading of the levy resolution and approval of the 3hr 10min – 3hr15 minute mark.

Clicking on any of the links above will take you to the agenda for the meeting. You can click on “Watch Video” to review the School Board’s discussion on the topic.

These meetings are typically broadcast live and replayed on Channel 21 and are available online at the School District website under the tab of School Board and can be accessed either via “School Board Meeting Agendas” or “Board of Directors Video Archive”.

What the difference between the Educational Maintenance & Operations Levy and the Capital Levy we passed in 2016?
The Educational M&O levy funds current school programs and staff that are not funded by the state whereas the Capital levy repairs/maintains assets with a longer life span, such as buildings and fields.

What do enrollment trends look like in MISD?
One component of the school funding calculation is enrollment. MISD conducts deep studies every 5 years to understand and predict enrollment. The most recent was done in March 2017 and presented here:
March 2017 Demographic Trends and Enrollment Projections

What funds do Mercer Island School District students receive?
It should be noted that our local MISD funding per student is nearly average as compared to all other school districts in the State of Washington.  The aggregate funding level per student of $10,451 is rated 143rd of 295 school districts in the state. The sources of the funding as well as ranking are (note 2015 data but rankings have not fluctuated significantly over the years):

  • $5,914 from state of WA (282 of 295)
  • $2,877 from Mercer Island local M&O Levy (49 of 295)
  • $1,233 from non-tax sources including PTA, boosters, student fees, and MI Schools Foundation (5 of 295)
  • $349 from Federal funds (286 of 295)
  • $78 from assorted miscellaneous funds (98 of 295)

 
Why is this election occurring before I receive my property tax bill?
Washington state sets the dates when elections can occur and when property tax bills are mailed out. For the Mercer Island School District, as well as many others around us, this election is held in the normal cycle in which our 4 year Maintenance and Operations levy would expire. This levy was last renewed on February 11, 2014.

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