Educational Programs & Operations Levy

In February 2023, voters in Kalama School District approved a replacement Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy to help fund services and operations in the district that are not fully-funded by the state or federal government.

The levy will provide approximately $11.3 million in funds to Kalama’s public schools over a three-year period starting in 2024, taking the place of the district’s existing EP&O levy that expires at the end of 2023.

About the Replacement Levy

Among the programs, activities, services and staff positions funded by the levy are:

Teacher and students posing for a photo in front of Kalama elementary

Academic support for students: 

  • Art, Music & Drama programs

  • Classroom supplies

  • College credit & dual credit opportunities

  • Special Education supports & services

  • Career-Connected Learning programs

  • Textbooks & curricula

  • Bilingual services

  • Advanced placement opportunities

  • Outdoor learning (CISPUS)

  • Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math (STEAM) programs


  • Field & court maintenance

  • Sports equipment

  • Team transportation

  • Coaching

School staffing: 

  • School counselors

  • Health care specialists

  • Paraeducators & substitute teachers

  • Administrators

  • Dean of Students

  • Library & Media Center

  • Food service

  • Preschool & Chinook Station

  • Social worker

  • Communications

  • Custodial services

  • Professional development

Safety & security:

  • Crossing guards

  • Technology

  • Evening security

Levy funding represents approximately 13% of the district's estimated budget.

Levy FAQs

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

  • Chinook Station

  • 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:

Pie chart showing the following: Student learning & staffing: 43% Operations & Maintenance: 25% Athletics & Activities: 15% Health & Safety: 10% Instructional Support: 6%

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.

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.