Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions


How do I register to vote?

There are several ways to register to vote, including online, by mail or in person. View voter registration deadlines for the February 11, 2020 Special Election on the Thurston County Elections Division website.

Where can I vote?
This election is mail-only. Completed ballots must be postmarked by Election Day on February 11, 2020 or dropped off postage-free in ballot drop boxes located throughout the Olympia School District. For a list of ballot drop box locations, visit the Thurston County Elections Division website.

Are there tax exemptions for low-income senior citizens and people with disabilities?
Yes. Low-income senior citizens and people with disabilities may qualify for a tax exemption. For more information, visit the Thurston County Assessor’s website or call the Assessor’s Office at (360) 867-2200.

Where can I get more information about the school district’s proposed Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy ballot measure?
Specifics about the ballot measure are included on this district website. In addition to this Frequently Asked Questions webpage, you may visit the Levy 2020 webpage for a summary of information and other related links to webpages that address Voter Registration and information about tax rate and cost. For additional information, contact the Olympia School District Communications and Community Relations department at (360) 596-6103 or [email protected].

What is an Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy?
An Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy, often referred to as a Maintenance and Operations (M & O levy), is a replacement levy to cover the gap between state funding and the cost of existing programs and operations. School levies are the only locally approved ballot measures that directly pay for classroom and educational needs of students not funded by the state.

Districts may place levy measures for up to four years on the local ballot. The Olympia School District is requesting a four-year replacement levy.

Is this a new tax?

The proposed levy is ​not a new tax. The measure on the February 2020 ballot would replace an expiring four-year Educational Programs and Operations Levy approved by Olympia School District voters in February 2016.

What would the replacement levy pay for?
Levy funds would be used to continue to provide education to students with disabilities and provide classroom and districtwide support staff not funded through state basic education such as paraeducators, school nurses, social and mental health supports and security staff.  Funds would also support middle and high school athletic and extracurricular activities, transportation outside of the basic school day, preschool programs for students with special needs, visual and performing arts programs, staff professional development, and maintenance and operations not funded through state basic education.


Why does the district need a replacement levy when the state Legislature maintains it has fully funded basic education with the 2017 “McCleary fix”?
While the state did generate some additional school funding with the so-called “McCleary fix,” the state still does not fully fund the cost to provide public education to our students. Our schools rely on renewing these levies to provide staff, classroom sizes, programs and opportunities needed for students beyond basic state funding.


The 2017 McCleary legislation was designed to include the assumption that districts still need local levy support. For example, the state does not provide school districts funding for athletics or activities. In addition, the state continues to under-fund significant areas of the district operations. Special needs services, required by law, are underfunded by about $5 million per year in the Olympia School District. The state fully admits this underfunding in legislative public hearings. In addition, the district must subsidize staffing levels of teachers, school nurses, counselors, school safety officers and teacher librarians. For example the state funding formula pays for 1.5 school nurses to serve our 10,000 students. This equates to 17 minutes of nurse time per school per day. Historically our voter-approved school levies have allowed us to hire 10 additional nurses.

The McCleary “fix” did not fix the state funding problem for K-12 education.

What would the proposed replacement levy cost in each of the four years?
The levy would raise an estimated $133.6 million over four years (2021-2024), or an average of $33.4 million per year.


The estimated levy rate depends on the final dollar amount of assessed value of property within the school district. Based on information to date from the county assessor’s office, the projected levy rate for the proposed measure, as well as the combined district tax rate, are both explained in writing and shown in a bar graph on the “What Does it Cost?” webpage.


Do the tax rates depicted in district levy informational flyers match the property assessment that homeowners will receive from the county?
No, due to the timing of the February election and deadlines set by the Thurston County Auditor’s Office for the printed county voters’ pamphlet, the tax rates depicted in the levy informational flyers were created before final tax rates were available. Homeowners will receive tax notifications from the county with final rates (typically in late January), and these rates are 6 cents different than our original levy tax rate projections.

Earlier in the fall, and based on an October 25, 2019 projection of our total 2020 Educational Programs and Operations (EPO) Replacement Levy from the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and based on preliminary assessed valuation data from the county, we estimated the 2020 Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy rate to be $2.49 per $1,000 of assessed valuation (AV). At the same time we projected that our combined levy rate (EPO, bond, and technology/safety levy) would total $5.15 per $1,000 AV in 2020.

After receiving an update from the state superintendent on how much EP0 we can collect in 2020, and final assessed valuation information from the county, and adding in the refund levy, we now anticipate an EP0 levy rate of $2.43 and a combined levy rate of $5.09 per $1,000 AV. This is a 6 cent difference from our projections in the fall.

Unfortunately many of our levy information flyers had already been printed and the county deadlines had been met. We will verbally share this 6 cent difference when we talk to groups. The levy flyers do correctly display a decline from the 2020 rate each year of the upcoming 4 years, ultimately to $4.84 per $1,000 AV.

How many votes are required by state law to pass a school levy?

School levies require a majority vote — 50 percent plus one, to pass.

Is the Washington state property tax enacted in 2017 part of the combined OSD combined property tax rate information?

No, our charts focus on the district property tax rates. We as a school district do not control state taxation, nor do we control how that revenue is distributed. However, below is a comparison showing the new total tax rate for 2020 and future years with a note of how that rate compares to when the law was enacted in 2017.



Total State Taxes (new and prior)

Total District Taxes (M&O, Technology, Bond)

Total for All Schools Taxes

Difference to 2017

2017 (The year the new state tax was enacted)





2020 (w/ current levy)




$0.76 higher than 2017

2021 (w/ levy request)




$0.64 higher

2022 (w/ levy request)




$0.51 higher

2023 (w/ levy request)




$0.44 higher

2024 (w/ levy request)




$0.37 higher