Q: My tax bill lists “School Tax 1” and “School Tax 2.” Don’t these two taxes fully support local schools?

A few years back, the state legislature performed a “levy swap.” They increased the portion of property taxes that go to the State to pay for schools and labeled this “State School Tax 2,” while, at the same time, decreased the amount that school districts can collect. (State School Tax 1 is the pre-McCleary tax) 

Simultaneously, the state mandated school districts increase the salaries of teachers and other staff. The levels of state funding continue to underfund required programs like special education and do not match the expectations of the local community for a quality educational program. In other words, the state legally requires school districts to provide many services that districts receive little or sometimes no funding at all to provide. 

These services are called “unfunded mandates.” 

Without funding, school districts must either make cuts to other programs or request funding from their communities in the form of local levies. Nearly every school district in Washington State needs a locally-funded levy in order to provide the programs and services communities expect in their schools.