Questions and Answers

What is the difference between a school bond and a levy?


Bonds are for Buildings and Levies are for Learning. While levies support basic educational programs and services, school bonds provide immediate funds for large, long-term capital projects. This includes modernization of buildings, new school construction or purchasing property. Bond funds are generally collected over a 15-30 year period, and are comparable to your home mortgage.

What does it take to pass a Levy?

To pass a Levy, 50% of the people who vote in that election +1

How does the McCleary decision effect Levies and Bonds?


The Washington State Supreme Court ruling, referred to as the “McCleary fix,” provided increased funding for public schools beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. While the state increased some funds, it reduced the amount school districts can raise from local levies, and applied restrictions on how funding can be used.  The McCleary decision funded schools by creating a state school tax from the state level.  Local school districts have no control over state taxes.

What this means for school districts across Washington is that school levy rates will be capped at $1.50 (per $1000 evaluation) beginning in January 2019.  Therefore, tax payers in Ephrata will see the current levy rate drop by an estimated $3.20 per $1000 ( from the original $4.70 down to $1.50)

Tax payers in Ephrata will see a decrease in their property taxes in 2019.


How many years is our Educational Programs and Operations (EPO) Levy?

This is a 2-year local levy.  This is not a new tax.  This replaces the old Maintenance and Operation Levy (M&O).

What will the EPO Levy Fund?

1.  Safety & Security
2.  Co-curricular bus trips and activity supplies
3.  Technology software and hardware
4.  Professional development and staff training
5.  College in the High School

Why does our district need a school bond now?

The facilities study committee, from the previous 2 years, made a recommendation to the school board.  The school board recommended a proposition to the Ephrata School District voters for the following building projects:

1.  Increased Safety and Security
2.  New Classrooms
3.  New Multi-purpose Gyms
4.  Enlarging Cafeterias
5.  Office Remodels
6.  Performing Arts Center and PAC Gym
7.  Roofs


What will the proposed bond pay for?


If the bond passes, the district would complete the following projects:

1.  Increased Safety & Security
    a.  Improve and add lighting.
    b.  Upgrade video systems, add key-less entry & automatic locking doors.
    c.  Install fencing to create a safety barrier for students & staff.

2.  New Classrooms
    a.  Construct eight permanent classrooms to replace portables at Columbia Ridge.  Also
        addresses long-range planning.

3.  New Multi-purpose Gymnasiums
    a.  Multi-purpose gymnasiums will be large enough to address current and future enrollment
        as well as co-curricular needs
    b.  Build multi-purpose gymnasiums at Columbia Ridge and Grant to accommodate PE, music,
         band, and community events.
    c.  Build multi-purpose gymnasiums at Ephrata Middle School to accommodate a weight
         room,
        PE locker rooms, a standard basketball court, bleachers, and music.

4.  Enlarging Cafeterias
    a.  Remove music stages from Columbia Ridge and Grant cafeterias.
    b.  Enlarge and reconfigure cafeterias after relocating the music programs to the new
         gymnasiums.

5.  Office Remodels
    a.  Remodel office spaces at Columbia Ridge and Grant to allow staff to have a direct line of
         sight to the front door and the ability to control entry into the buildings.

6.  Performing Arts Center (PAC) & PAC Gym
    a.  Renovate existing PAC:  Increase ceiling height, replace stage and rigging, upgrade to
         theater seating, adding new entry doorway, upgrade sound and lighting along with control
         panels.
    b.  Remodel PAC gym area used for band and choir performances:  Upgrade sound and
         lighting, new control panels, new seating and acoustical treatments, while maintaining the
         ability to house all current PE and athletic events.

7.  Roofs
    a.  Replace roofs with a 15-year roofing product to protect our schools' assets.

Why not build classrooms at Grant School?

The facilities committee discussed several issues regarding portables.
1.  Potential future configuration of grade levels;
2.  Building in the flood plain and associated costs;
3.  Building beyond our potential capacity and needs at Grant School.

Why are we not proposing any building at Parkway?

Currently Parkway is meeting our needs.  Parkway will become eligible to receive state construction matching funds in about 2029.

What is the total cost of this project?

The total cost is estimated at $35 million.

How much will the bond cost taxpayers?


The total bond amount is for $27.893 million. If approved by voters, the estimated tax rate increase would be $2.80 per $1,000 assessed value. (See table below.)

2020 BOND TAX RATE INCREASE
Assessed Property Value Cost Per Year  Cost Per Month  
 $100,000  $280 $23.00
 200,000  $560 $47.00
 300,000  $840 $70.00

Tax rates are per $1,000 assessed property value.



How is the rest of this project paid for?

The Ephrata School District is eligible for an estimated $7.7 million, from the state construction fund, for local school construction.  This money will be used to pay the difference between the total cost of the project and what is raised through local bonds.

What does it take to pass a bond?

Bonds must pass 2 requirements:
1.  The first requirement is 40% of the people who voted in the last election, must vote in this
     election to validate the bond.
2.  The bond must pass by 60%.

How many years is the proposed bond financed?


The proposed bond will be financed for 20 years.

When would construction begin on the bond projects?

If Ephrata voters approve the bond on February 12, 2019, the design process will start shortly after bond passage.  It is hoped that some construction would begin in late fall of 2019.


What will be the combined tax rate if this school bond passes?


Ephrata School District does not currently have any bonds that we pay for.  If voters approve the February 2019 Bond, the total combined Levy rate and Bond tax rate will be $4.30 per $1,000 assessed value. (See table below.)


ESTIMATED 2020 TAX RATES:
NEW 2019 Bond Tax Rate $1.50
NEW 2019 Bond Tax Rate $2.80  
TOTAL COMBINED TAX RATE $4.30

(Tax rates shown are per $1,000 assessed property value for bonds only.)



Is there a tax break for senior citizens?


Qualified senior citizens can receive a tax break through the Grant County Auditor’s Office. Under certain conditions, people with disabilities or citizens 61 years of age or older are eligible for a tax exemption. Please call (509) 754-2011 for more information. Applications and other information can be found online at www.grantcountywa.gov

When are ballots mailed?


The Grant County Election Department will be mailing ballots the week of January 21, 2019.  Ballots should arrive in your mailboxes by the end of January. If you are registered to vote and do not receive your ballot by Friday, January 25, please call (509) 754-2011 and they will mail you another.


Can I still register to vote?


You can register to vote in-person until Monday, February 4 at the Grant County Auditor's Office, located at 35 C Street NW in Ephrata. If you have questions about voter registration, call (509) 754-2011. Voter registration forms are also available at all Ephrata schools and at the District Office. Registering to vote online is easy, too! Just follow the simple steps at www.sos.wa.gov/elections/register.aspx


Where can I drop my ballot?


Ballots may be deposited in the ballot box located at the Grant County Auditor's Office located at 35 C Street NW in Ephrata.  Ballots can also be mailed, postage is required if mailing.  Ballots must be turned in by 8 p.m. on February 12 to be counted.
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