Explaining Spokane Public Schools’ proposed replacement levy

SPOKANE, Wash. — School nurses, counselors, athletics, arts and after-school clubs are all essential parts of every kid’s education- and they’re all paid for district levies. Spokane Public School’s current levy that covers all those things- and so much more- will be expiring at the end of this year, but you’ll be voting on the years ahead in just a few weeks.

For starters, it’s important to distinguish between levies and bonds. Levies are for learning and bonds are for building. Superintendent Adam Swinyard with SPS says, “If we didn’t have a levy in place, we wouldn’t have sport, after school programs, sports, choir, or counseling.”

They district is presenting a tax rate of $2.40/$1,000 assessed property value, incrementally growing to $2.50 by 2024.

SPS Tax Rates

For some perspective, if you live in a home estimated at $250,000 (the average local home value), you paid about $1,047 for the current levy tax in place in 2020. If the new levy is approved, you’ll be paying closer to $1,142 and that would go into place in 2021.

“In this levy, it includes a tax rate that is a modest increase to what people paid in the last couple of years and a significant decrease to what people paid in 2018 in terms of the tax rate,” Swinyard said.

SPS Levy Taxes Over Time

SPS is also battling a reduction in state revenue from the McLeary decision that came into play in 2019. This means a total of about $42 million over the three year period this upcoming levy would cover.

Reduction in State Revenue

Despite the added costs, Swinyard feels it’s well worth the long-term pay out.

“One of the things we know is that a quality education is so important for kids to have a bright and a hopeful future- no matter who you are, no matter where you come from or what your background is. Education is a pathway to opportunity and to future,” said Swinyard.

This replacement levy will be on the February 9 ballot.

READ: Spokane Schools levy sees a large increase over previous one