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Prosser School District Levy 2024

WHO?

For every Prosser School District student, every day

WHAT?

Educational Programs & Operations Levy (EP&O) and Capital Levy

WHEN?

Ballots are due February 13, 2024.

WHERE?

Ballots can be mailed, postmarked by February 13, 2024, or dropped in a voting drop box.

WHY?

The purpose of this levy is to address the shortfall in funding for educational services and programs that are not sufficiently supported by the state. 

Informational Meetings

January 16
8:00 a.m.
Keene-Riverview Staff Meeting

January 16
6:00 p.m.

Parent Teacher Organization (PTO)
Keene-Riverview Gymnasium

January 17
7:50 a.m.
Prosser Heights Staff Meeting

January 17
1:40 p.m.
Prosser High School Staff Meeting

January 18
7:00 p.m.

Community Meeting (English/Spanish)
Sharehouse

January 22
7:00 p.m.
Community Meeting (English/Spanish)
PHS Auditorium

January 23 Ballots Mailed Out

January 23
7:35 a.m.
Housel Middle School Staff Meeting

January 23
7:00 p.m.
Prosser City Council Meeting

January 24
2:15 p.m.
Whitstran Staff Meeting

January 30
7:00 p.m.
Community Meeting (English/Spanish)
Housel Middle School

January 31
5:00 p.m.
Community Meeting (English/Spanish)
Senior Center

January 31
1:00 p.m.
Amber Hills

February 1
Noon
Rotary Meeting
Horse Heaven Saloon

February 2
5:00 p.m.
Senior Center - BINGO Night
Senior Center

February 6
Noon
Chamber of Commerce Meeting
Brewminatti

February 9
5:00 p.m.
PAC Meeting
Housel Middle School

February 13 Ballots Due

What is a levy and what does it fund?

A levy is a locally approved, short-term property tax designed to enable a school district to finance programs and services that are not fully funded by the state or are not part of the "basic education" provision. The revenue generated from each type of levy is earmarked for particular purposes. To illustrate, funds generated through an EP&O (Educational Programs and Operations) levy cannot be allocated for construction, renovation, or building projects.

Levy Equalization

If approved, the school district would collect an estimated $17.953 million in local tax dollars over the four years. Approval also qualifies the district to receive an estimated $6.879 million in levy equalization funds (LEA) from the state of Washington at no additional cost to local property owners. If the levy fails, the district will not be able to collect any local tax dollars or receive any LEA funds.

Levy equalization funds are an attempt to bridge the local tax funding gap between school districts in property-poor communities and those in communities with higher property values.

Levy Passes: Prosser School District receives $6.879 million in Levy Equalization Money from the State $17.953 million in Local Taxes.

Levy Doesn’t Pass: Prosser School District receives $0 dollars.

Educational Programs & Operations Levy (EP&O)

The EP&O (Educational Programs and Operations) Levy serves the essential purpose of bridging the financial gap between the funds allocated by the state and the actual expenses incurred by the school district to support student programs and services. An EP&O levy can be authorized for a maximum duration of four years. In the case of Prosser, the EP&O Levy plays a crucial role in financing the following:

1. Salaries and benefits for certificated and classified staff.

2. Support for athletics; including coaching, safety equipment, officials & salaries.

3. Funding for extracurricular activities, including various clubs such as FFA, FBLA, FCCLA, , and more.

4. Transportation for events, including sports events and field trips.

5. The presence of a School Security Officer for safety and security at each building.

6. Enhancing learning environments.

7. Providing ongoing staff training.

8. Support for school counselors.

9. Ensuring access to technology services and instruction.

10. Procuring textbooks and curriculum materials.

11. Maintenance and upgrades of school facilities.

12. Covering heating, lighting, classroom supplies, and custodial supplies.

13. Nursing; including Nurses & Health Room Assistants.

14. Enrichment and expanded learning opportunities.

15. The Arts.

It's worth noting that Prosser's voters previously approved the last EP&O levy in 2022, which is set to expire in December 2024. If the 2024 EP&O levy is endorsed by local voters on February 13, 2024, it will simply replace the expiring levy, ensuring the continued funding of these vital programs and services for the school district.

Capital Levy

The Capital Levy would allow Prosser Consolidated School District to levy taxes over a four year period to finance District-wide safety, security and infrastructure improvements, including, but not limited to: (1) acquiring, installing, implementing and/or modernizing secure entrances, security cameras, entry/access controls, door locks and other safety and security systems; (2) installing, upgrading and/or improving facilities for Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) accessibility; (3) installing new tennis/pickleball courts; (4) installing, improving and/or modernizing concessions, restrooms and parking facilities; (5) upgrading and/or improving heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment and systems (“HVAC”), electrical and plumbing systems and equipment; and (6) making other safety, security and infrastructure improvements to District facilities (including repairing or replacing roofs at Housel Middle School).

How much money will the School District collect over the four-year life of the levy?

In the case of the replacement levy, we are seeking voter approval for the collection of approximately $4.29 million in 2025, $4.42 million in 2026, $4.55 million in 2027, and $4.68 million in 2028.

The collection amount is subject to a "levy lid," a restriction imposed by the state on school districts. Our district's levy lid is currently set at $2,500 per pupil, and the state has stipulated that this limit will increase in line with inflation. We have taken into account both this inflationary adjustment and our projected student population growth, which is why the proposed collection amounts rise progressively over the four-year period. It's important to note that if our estimations in either of these categories are overly cautious, the district might end up collecting less than the requested amount.

What is the impact?

The replacement levy will be collected based on an estimated rate per $1,000 of assessed property values within our district. As a point of reference, the current average tax rate for our districts stands at $1.87 per thousand. Our projected rates for the replacement levy were calculated using assessed property values data from November 2024. Here's a comparison of the tax rates for the current levy and the projected rates for the replacement levy:

Current Levy:

- 2021 actual: $1.92

- 2022 actual: $2.14

- 2023 actual: $2.05

- 2024 projected: $1.87

Replacement Levy:

- 2025 projected: $2.00

- 2026 projected: $2.00

- 2027 projected: $2.00

- 2028 projected: $2.00

These figures give a clear picture of the expected changes in the tax rates for the replacement levy compared to the rates experienced under the current levy, taking into account the assessed property values in the district.

Why do we need levies?

The state provides funding for K-12 public education based on what it refers to as a "prototypical model." However, our district believes that this state model does not align with our standards for what is best for our students and the local community. A notable example of where our community's expectations exceed the state's model can be seen in the provision of school psychologists.

Under the state's funding model, our district is allocated funding for only 0.057 school psychologists to serve just over 2,100 students across six locations. This is just one example of the deficiencies in the state funding model. To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the shortcomings in the state's funding model, one can refer to the response to the question provided earlier: "What does the replacement maintenance and operations levy specifically pay for?"

Are senior citizens exempt from paying this levy?

Senior citizens and individuals with disabilities who meet the qualifying criteria may be eligible for an exemption from paying school levies. For additional information and to determine your eligibility for this exemption, please contact (509) 786-2046. You can also find further details and resources on this matter by visiting the relevant pages for the Benton County Assessor's Office and the Klickitat County Assessor's Office. They can provide guidance and assistance in understanding and applying for the exemption.

How can I vote?

Voters residing within the Prosser School District will receive a ballot by mail in January 2023 for the upcoming February special election, during which they will have the opportunity to vote on the replacement levy. To ensure that your vote is counted, please note that ballots must be mailed and postmarked or returned to a voter drop-box by February 13, 2024.

For comprehensive information related to elections and voting, including details on registering to vote, updating your address, and access to a complete list of drop box locations, we recommend visiting the page provided by the Benton County Auditor's Office or the Klickitat County Auditor's Office. This resource will guide you through the necessary steps and provide you with all the information you need to participate in the election.