Funding schools in Washington State is based on the McCleary Funding Model, where the aim is to have equitable funding for all. However, Ferndale and several other School Districts in the state must continue to rely on local levies to fund school programs.
What does the levy mean for the district budget?
Four years ago, our levy paid for 25% of everything we do. Because of changes at the State level, it now pays for 13% of everything we do.
Do other school districts use levies to fund operating budgets?
Yes. Levies have provided part of the funding for schools in Washington State for nearly 50 years. All seven school districts in Whatcom County passed four-year levies in 2016 that run out at the end of 2020. Therefore, all seven districts asked voters to renew their levies in February 2020. Ferndale’s levy initially failed, so we are proposing a levy in November at a lower rate.
What happens if the levy is not renewed?
If our levy is not renewed, we will lose 13% of our operating budget beginning on January 1, 2021. Since the levy pays for programs that serve students, and all programs require staffing, losing the levy funds will necessitate cutting both programs and staff.
What is the difference between a bond and a levy?
Our most recent levy was a four-year levy passed in 2016. A levy provides money to help the district fund day-to-day school programs and operations. It bridges the gap between State funding and the cost of current programs, and pays for people and services such as teachers, classroom materials and extracurricular activities.
By contrast, a bond pays for capital projects, mainly new construction and remodeling of existing buildings. Our most recent school bond was passed in 2019. The majority of the money from the 2019 bond will fund the construction of a new Ferndale High School and the remaining funds will be used to upgrade heating/cooling/security systems at remaining schools, as well as renovating the Performing Arts Center at FHS.
How long will the levy last?
The 2020 levy impacts school years 2020-21 and 2021-22.
How much revenue will the levy raise?
The local levy will raise approximately $12.5 million per year.
Is Ferndale the only school district asking voters to pass a levy in November?
Ferndale is the only School District in Whatcom County that is running a levy in November 2020. The other Whatcom County districts approved their levies in the February 2020 election.