Bonds and Levies: What’s the difference?
A bond is a request by a school district of voters to sell bonds to raise cash for capital expenses, usually substantial projects. Bonds are the only means through which districts can build schools.
State matching funds help supplement local bond and capital levy dollars to build, remodel, and renovate K-12 schools. For example, if a district needs to build new school buildings and remodel others, voters are asked to approve a construction bond. The bond, once approved by voters, may be supplemented by state matching dollars to help the district fund facilities needed.
Only after a district passes its bond or capital levy is it eligible to apply for a matching grant from the state. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) approves projects and administers the state matching funds to K-12 school districts based upon a mix of factors such as the need for space, building conditions, project timelines, etc., as well as local and state funds available.
A levy is a request by a school district of voters to raise or continue property taxes for a limited number of years for operations costs or capital improvements such as computers or other equipment. Local levies bridge the gap between state funding and what it actually costs to operate schools. Levy dollars pay for the following programs and services:
Maintenance and Operations Levy
- Smaller class sizes
- All extra-curricular activities including athletics, music, drama, art
- Counselors, nurses, paraeducators, technology staff
- Community Education
- Library staff, library books, curriculum and teaching materials
- Accelerated programs including after-school activities, foreign languages, and highly capable programs
- Purchases new buses to address growth
- Replaces aging bus fleet
- Improves fuel efficiency
- Does not pay for staff
- Equipment, software and hardware
- Learning opportunities such as class presentations, video projects, online curriculum, career and scholarship research, skill-building technology, test preparation, and phonics programs
- Communication systems including network upgrades required to run state data-processing software, web servers, email, phones and voice mail, increased bandwidth for more efficient and reliable access to the internet, and other on-line resources
- Increased productivity such as grade/assignment monitoring, classroom videoconferencing, digital video distribution and streaming media, and electronic reporting for grades, student data, attendance and assessment
- Does not pay for staff.