On February 8, 2022, Tumwater voters will have the opportunity to vote on the Replacement Capital Levy Election for the Tumwater School District (TSD). Here is what you need to know to make an informed choice.
If It Passes
The initial resolution behind the Levy was passed by the Tumwater School Board of Directors on November 10, 2021. It is not a new tax but extends the current levy from 2023 through 2026. If this Levy passes, homes valued at $350,00 would pay $262.50 each year or $21.88 a month. “The overall TSD tax rates will remain stable and not increase over the 2021 or 2020 collections,” says Superintendent Sean Dotson. “This will not cause local taxes to increase.”
Monies, which would be collected and available in 2023, go towards purchase and replacement of student Chromebooks, building safety and seismic upgrades, and replacement of boiler/chillers in schools. “Technology replacement is an ongoing need,” explains Dotson. “The facilities projects are not necessarily new, but they are projects that have come due. Examples of this are roofs that are due for replacement and heating (HVAC) systems that are aging and in need of replacement or repair.”
But not all funds go to existing projects. “There are also projects that have been identified more recently,” says Dotson. “For example, a recent seismic review of district facilities identified a need to add structural reinforcement to walls in the Tumwater Middle School cafeteria. This measure would address that need. This measure also includes pre-planning for our next elementary school as our district is experiencing many new housing developments and apartment buildings that are under construction.”
Levy funds come with restrictions on their use. “While the state provides funding for staff and school operations, most facilities improvements like those included in this levy are locally funded by capital levies,” explains Laurie Wiedenmeyer, Communications Director. “Thanks to the support of voters in 2020, Tumwater School District was able to add a much-needed fire sprinkler system at Black Lake Elementary that improves student safety and will provide improved protection for the building.”
“In addition,” she continues, “the technology funding our community has supported in previous elections ensured that we had the computers and technology to shift effectively to remote instruction when the pandemic required schools to shift to remote instruction. This measure, if approved, would continue to provide funding to address important facilities needs across the district.”
If It Fails
If this levy does not pass, the district will not have funding for the facilities projects, safety and security projects, and technology funded through this levy. The facilities and safety and security projects funded by this measure would be deferred until later and new and/or replacement technology would not be purchased. The district would evaluate its ability to continue to provide a 1:1 Chromebook model as equipment ages or fails. Projects funded by this levy would need to be packaged into a future levy or bond issue for the community to consider.
Want to know more about the levy’s collection or use? Visit the TSD’s Levy Information page for a sharable flyer, details or Frequently Asked Questions. You can also send questions to email@example.com, Superintendent Sean Dotson care of the Tumwater School District, 621 Linwood Ave SW, Tumwater, WA 98512, or by calling 360-709-7001.
Tumwater’s School District covers 117 square miles and works with more than 6,000 students from 10 schools. Their 800 staff members work towards a mission of “Continuous Student Learning in a Caring, Engaging Environment.” You can follow them on Facebook or Twitter for updates, activities and information.
Ballots have been mailed and drop boxes are open for the February 8 special election, according to the Thurston County Auditor. If you think you should have received one by have not by Wednesday, January 26, contact the Auditor’s office at 360.786.5408 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Ballots must be dropped off or postmarked by February 8 and no stamp is needed to mail in your ballot.
Per the Auditor’s office: “Thurston County residents can register to vote, get a replacement ballot and vote using an accessibility voting device at the Voting Center located at 2400 Evergreen Park Dr. SW, Olympia, WA 98502. Drive-thru voter services are available at this location.” Their hours from January 21 through February 7 are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on February 8.