Schools In Focus: School levies, bonds in focus

In the intricate landscape of educational finance, the question of how schools secure the necessary funds to deliver quality education to every student is a complex one.

At the center of this equation is our state Constitution which calls on the legislature to amply fund basic education. School funding flows through carefully crafted state funding allocations known as the “prototypical model.”

This model serves as the Legislature’s blueprint, outlining the financial requirements involved in providing a foundational education to our students.

Despite the state’s paramount duty to fund schools, the financial allocation falls well short of covering the actual expenses incurred from classrooms to counselors, from technology to transportation and of course extra-curricular activities including athletics, music and drama.

Which bring us to the vital role of local community funding measures; levies and bonds. Levies and bonds bridge the gap between the funds allocated by the state and the actual costs of the school environments where students learn and grow.

Levies, bonds

What are levies? In short, levies are for learning. They are tailored to cover the day-to-day operational needs of a school district not funded by the state. From salaries to classroom supplies and maintenance expenses, levies serve as a lifeline for ongoing functions which benefit our students.

These community-supported initiatives are funded through local property taxes, with approval requiring a simple majority vote (50% +1 vote).

As has been Sequim’s experience, the majority of communities positively support such “levies for learning.” Currently, the Sequim School District is amid a four-year EP&O (Educational Programs and Operations) levy that funds approximately 15% of the district’s school budget.

Sequim School District also runs a Capital Projects Levy for critical safety, energy and technology infrastructure repairs and renovations. The current capital levy in Sequim has resulted in roofing, HVAC (heating, venting, air conditioning), ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act), network and gym floor replacements.

The four-year capital projects levy also has projects slated for science lab improvements and high school track resurfacing.

This voter approved funding has supported renovation and maintenance not funded by the state.

What are bonds? Taking a long-term approach (typically 20-25 years), bonds are the financial cornerstone for capital projects.

Bonds are for building. Whether it’s constructing a new school or renovating existing facilities, bonds provide the needed capital. Financed through borrowing, bonds need a higher approval, requiring a super majority vote (60%).

How to get involved

Both the EP&O and Capital Projects levies in Sequim are due for renewal as we approach 2025. Sequim School District will begin exploring future facilities planning.

A Long Range Facilities Planning Group will be established to assist with creating a district-wide facilities plan. Applications/nominations are being sought from parties interested in participating in the effort through March 15.

The 15-member group will hold monthly meetings in the coming months to evaluate the condition of Sequim School District facilities and research recommendations for future facilities development.

The application for and more information about the Sequim School District Long Range Planning Group can be found at the district website at

Regan Nickels is superintendent of the Sequim School District. “Schools in Focus” is a recurring column featured in the Sequim Gazette. See For more information or to comment on this column, email to