Educational Programs & Operations Levy
Academic support for students:
Art, Music & Drama programs
College credit & dual credit opportunities
Special Education supports & services
Career-Connected Learning programs
Textbooks & curricula
Advanced placement opportunities
Outdoor learning (CISPUS)
Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math (STEAM) programs
Field & court maintenance
Health care specialists
Paraeducators & substitute teachers
Dean of Students
Library & Media Center
Preschool & Chinook Station
Safety & security:
Levy funding represents approximately 13% of the district's estimated budget.
What role do levies play in school operations?
Levy dollars help to make up the difference between what the state provides for K-12 education and what it costs to operate schools while providing a quality learning environment.
Based on the 2021-2022 school year, the list below shows the percentage of school staff positions (organized by job type) that are funded and unfunded by the state. Levy dollars are used to help cover the unfunded amounts.
Substitute Teachers: 8% State funded, 92% Unfunded
Health Care (Nurse + Health Care Specialists): 9% State funded, 91% Unfunded
Technology Support: 19% State funded, 81% Unfunded
District Office: 39% State funded, 61% Unfunded
Paraeducators: 44% State funded, 56% Unfunded
School Counselors: 51% State funded, 49% Unfunded
Principals + Assistant Principal: 65% State funded, 35% Unfunded
Facilities/Maintenance/Custodial: 70% State funded, 30% Unfunded
Classroom Teachers: 90% State funded, 10% Unfunded
Additionally, the following school programs are 100% funded by a combination of local levy funds and ASB (fundraising) or grant dollars:
All athletic programs
Little Nooks Preschool
Food Services staff
How are levy dollars distributed? How much goes to student learning & staffing?
Student learning and staffing represents the bulk of levy spending. Here’s a breakdown of how levy funds are divvied up by category:
Why was this levy referred to as a “replacement levy?”
This levy was described as a “replacement levy” because it will take the place of the current levy, which expires at the end of 2023. The expiring levy was approved in April 2020 at an estimated rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The replacement levy was proposed to voters at the same estimated rate.
How does Kalama’s levy rate compare to neighboring school districts?
Based on the 2022 tax year, Kalama School District had the lowest Educational Programs & Operations (EP&O) levy rate in Southwest Washington*:
Mount Pleasant School District: $2.34
Woodland Public Schools: $2.32
Camas School District: $2.30
Toutle Lake School District: $2.17
Washougal School District: $2.15
Longview Public Schools: $2.14
Vancouver School District: $1.97
Battle Ground School District: $1.96
Kelso School District: $1.95
Green Mountain School District: $1.90
Castle Rock School District: $1.88
Evergreen School District: $1.70
Hockinson School District: $1.50
La Center School District: $1.50
Ridgefield School District: $1.49
Kalama School District: $1.42
*Per $1,000 of assessed property value. Rates shown are for EP&O levies only.
What is the total dollar amount the district is authorized to collect each year?
The district is authorized to collect $3,499,447 in 2024, $3,771,427 in 2025, and $4,064,113 in 2026.
How does Kalama’s overall school tax rate (including all levies and bonds) compare to neighboring school districts?
Out of the 16 school districts in Clark and Cowlitz counties, Kalama School District’s overall school tax rate ranks as the 9th lowest (for tax year 2022). Kalama’s school bond was passed by voters in 2018 and used to construct the new elementary and middle school buildings. The district does not have multiple school levies.
If property values go up, can our district increase its total requested collection amount?
No. Property taxes may fluctuate, but the district can only collect up to the total amount approved by voters.
Why does the total requested collection amount go up each year of the levy?
The total amount collected typically increases year-over-year (just as it did with the expiring levy) due to increased costs over time, like inflation.
Can you share more details about projected increased costs using dollar amounts?
Here is a list of estimated increased expenditures in the district, projected between the 2023 and 2024 levy years:
Additional counseling staff = +$135,000
Additional special education expenditures = +$500,000
Catch-up curriculum adoption = +$200,000
Early learning/Preschool (1 teacher, 1 paraeducator) = +$10,000
Food service transportation = +$75,000
Mental health provider = +$135,000
Nursing support = +$50,000
Outdoor learning program reboot (staff & student training) = +$20,000
Preschool playground = +$200,000
Schedule change preparation = +$20,000
School business partnerships coordinator = +$135,000
SEL development & training = +$20,000
Transitional Kindergarten = +$25,000
How much will the renewal levy cost me?
You can calculate your estimated tax for each year of the levy by dividing the assessed value of your property by 1,000 and then multiplying by 1.50 (the estimated rate). Please keep in mind that the $1.50 rate is an estimate.
What happens if the levy rate goes above the estimated $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value?
The Kalama School Board is committed to keeping levy rates at or below $1.50. If assessed values drive the levy rate above $1.50, the district intends to rollback the dollar amount to be collected, to not exceed $1.50/$1,000. This self-imposed cap aligns with the board’s pledge to the community to create rate stability and predictability for taxpayers.
Will Kalama voters pay for the expiring levy and the recently-passed levy at the same time?
No. The current levy expires Dec. 31, 2023. The recently-passed levy will replace the current levy at the same estimated rate, with differing collection amounts. The current, expiring levy has been in place for tax years 2021, 2022 and ending in 2023. The renewal levy will be in place during tax years 2024, 2025 and 2026.
The recently-passed levy will allow the district to maintain current student programs and services for which the state does not fund or provide sufficient funding.
How often are citizens asked to vote on a school levy?
By design, EP&O levies are short-term funding mechanisms (three to four years in length) that provide school districts with the flexibility to re-calibrate course offerings and operations (based on growth and community demand) every few years.
If approved by voters in February 2023, this levy would expire at the end of 2026.
What would have happened if the levy was not renewed?
If the replacement levy was not renewed and local dollars were to expire, the district would have to cut a number of educational programs, staff positions, athletics and activities prior to the 2023-2024 school year. The loss of local dollars would result in larger class sizes and fewer educational and extracurricular experiences for students.
What is the difference between a school levy and a school bond?
Simply put, levies are for learning and bonds are for building. Check out this video from ESD 112 to learn more about the difference between a levy and a bond.
Where can I find a copy of the district's levy renewal mailer?
Click here to view a digital version of our levy mailer.
Is there a tax break for senior citizens?
Yes! Washington state law provides two tax benefit programs for senior citizens and individuals who are disabled: property tax exemptions and property tax deferrals. For more information on qualifications, please contact the Cowlitz County Assessor’s Office.
Kalama School District Superintendent Eric Nerison is ready to answer your questions about the replacement levy. Email your questions at any time to email@example.com.
The FAQs above are largely based on feedback from the district's December 2022 levy communication survey. Thank you to those who participated! Latest update: Friday, March 10, 2023.