Spokane Schools levy sees a large increase over previous one

SPOKANE, Wash. — Many students in the Inland Northwest are still learning from home through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, Spokane Public Schools’ 2018 levy is expiring and it’s time to decide whether it should be replaced.

At the school board meeting Wednesday night, Spokane Public Schools leadership laid out their arguments for why voters should continue the levy.

The school district wants you to know this is not a new tax, it is simply replacing the expiring one.

The levy itself is around 11-percent of the money schools get in the district. The district budget is almost $475 million. The levy, which is part of your property taxes, contributes about $65 million.

The estimated tax you’ll pay, if it’s approved, breaks down like this — starting in 2022, rates will be $2.40 per $1,000, and then increase five cents a year through 2024. If you have a $200,000 house, you are currently paying $308 a year, but by the end of this new levy you will be paying $500 a year.

According to Spokane Public Schools, the money helps support essential programs, people and services. For example, the State of Washington only pays for five nurses in the district, but levy dollars pay to put another 36 nurses in district schools. The levy also helps keep class size smaller for grades 4-12.

The district says the current levy has also helped during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Levy money goes to nurses doing contact tracing, helping to prevent the spread of the virus in schools. As well as to technology support staff which have kept families connected to the internet. They answered more than 4,000 requests this year alone. It also pays for 20 counselors who help with distance learning.

Spokane voters will decide on whether to continue the levy in a February 9th election.