April 26, 2022 Educational Programs and Operations Levy – Every Vote Counts!

On February 8, 2022, Finley’s proposed Educational Programs and Operations Levy fell short of passing by 6 votes. The Finley School Board has approved a resolution placing a two-year EP&O replacement levy on the April 26, 2022 ballot. The proposed tax rate is $.09 less each year than the previous rate we requested on February 8th. If the levy does not pass on April 26th, the district will need to cut the 2022-2023 operating budget by approximately $1,710,704.

how are levy dollars used? pie chart representing table of levy expenditures

A Look at the Numbers

How are local levy dollars used? What will the 2022 EP&O Levy pay for?

Finley Levy Expenditures


Instructional Supplies & Curriculum

$12,415.13  (0.73%)


$127,284.91  (7.45%)

Athletics & Extracurriculars

  • Extracurricular activities and clubs
  • Advisors
  • Coaches
  • Travel expenses
  • Equipment

$317,315.11  (18.56%)

Maintenance & Operations

  • Custodians
  • Buildings and grounds
  • Utilities

$336,769.58 (19.7%)

Staffing & Student Support

  • School Nurses
  • Counselors
  • Secretaries
  • Staff professional development/training

$915,609.78  (53.56%)



From preschool to graduation, every Finley student is impacted by local Levy dollars. Across the state, school districts rely on levies to support essential programs and cover costs that are not fully funded by the state. Finley’s EP&O Levy dollars will be used to continue the following programs, staffing, and operating expenses currently provided in our schools:

How much will the proposed 2022 EP&O Levy cost?

Finley’s EP&O Levy is a two-year replacement levy that would be collected in 2023 and 2024. It replaces the current levy that expires at the end of this year.


Total Collection Amount


Estimated Tax Rate

(per $1,000 assessed property value)







Tax Rate History: What do each of the “school taxes” mean on my property tax statement?

Property owners residing within the Finley School District boundaries may see four different “school taxes” on their property tax statements. The table below illustrates a historical look at these taxes, which include the Educational Programs & Operations Levy (in green), the school tax from the State of Washington* (in grey), and Finley’s School Bond (in yellow).

*The State School Tax shows up as two separate taxes from Washington on property statements. Those two rates are combined into one State School Tax in the chart below.
bar graph showing Finley's tax rate history

Where does school funding come from?

The primary sources of school funding for Washington’s public schools come from state and federal grants, state funding, and local levies and bonds.

Finley School District 2020-2021 Revenue Sources

Revenue Source


Local Levy Dollars & State Match (LEA)

$ 1,710,703.61

State Apportionment (based on student enrollment)

$ 7,261,456.05

State Grants $ 2,760,606.48
Federal Grants $ 1,105,946.88
Food Service Funding $ 587,751.72 
Transportation Funding  $ 514,344.87




When and how do I vote?

  • Ballots will be mailed to voters on April 6th
  • Ballots must be returned by 8PM on Tuesday, April 26th
  • Not sure if you’re registered to vote? You can find voting information or register to vote online at wei.sos.wa.gov.
  • Washington State law provides tax exemption and deferral programs for senior citizens and individuals who are disabled. For more information on qualifications, contact the Benton County Assessor’s Office at 509-735-2394.

Still Have Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns regarding Finley’s EP&O Levy or school funding, please feel free to contact our district office at (509) 586-3217.


Funding for education in the state of Washington is complicated and can lead to questions about how schools receive the money needed to serve our community’s children. The state of Washington is required to supply school districts with state funding for “basic education.” Outside of state funding and grants, schools may receive money for facilities, programs, and services from voter-approved bonds and levies. Because the funding provided by the state does not cover the actual costs to operate a school district, many school districts use levies to bridge the gap.

Q: Do all public schools receive state funding?

A: Yes, but the amount that districts receive varies based on a number of factors.  For example: Enrollment, regional cost of living differences, poverty rates, and the number of special needs or non-English speaking students are all factors in the amount of state funding a district receives. Most districts also receive additional federal funding, which is mostly determined by levels of poverty and special needs populations within a district.

Q: Didn’t Washington schools already receive money from the state because of the McCleary decision?

A: Yes, but the funding does not cover the actual costs of operating a school district. The Washington State Supreme Court decision on the McCleary lawsuit resulted in public school districts seeing a net funding increase in 2018. Even though the state increased the amount of funding it was providing to school districts, it also capped the amount of funding school districts can raise from local levies. The Legislature also applied restrictions to how funding can be used. For local school districts, this means that levies have been significantly impacted, causing widespread confusion in communities across the state.

Q: What is the difference between a bond and levy?

A: The easiest way to remember the difference between a bond and a levy is: Bonds are for building and levies are for learning. Bonds and levies provide schools with funds that must be used for specific purposes.


A Levy is a local property tax passed by the voters of a school district that generates revenue to fund programs and services that the state does not pay for as part of basic education. Because the funding provided by the state does not cover the actual costs to operate a school district, districts often use levy funds to hire additional staff, or for student programming and services that are underfunded or not funded by the state. Some of the many things that levies help to fund may include: extracurricular activities, special education, transportation, food service, operations, grounds and maintenance, preschool, and other activities.

Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levies (formerly called Maintenance and Operations levies) allow a school district to provide things like teachers, support staff, supplies and materials, or services that the state only partially funds. Funding provided by the state does not fully cover the actual costs to operate a school district, so levies fill in the gap.

A replacement levy is the renewal of an existing school levy that is about to expire. Typically, if a district is asking for a replacement levy to be approved by voters, it means that it is simply the continuation of an existing tax.


A Bond is a long-term investment that authorizes the district to purchase property for schools, construct new schools, or modernize existing schools. Bonds are sold to investors who are repaid with interest over time from property tax collections, generally between 12-20 years.
Finley community members approved a $10 million bond on February 14, 2017. These bond funds helped pay for major renovations across all of Finley's schools. You can find more information and details about Finley's 2017 Bond at https://www.finleysd.org/district/bonds/2017_bond_information.

Q: How are levies approved?

A: Levies require local voter approval with a simple majority of pass 50% + 1 vote in order to pass.

Q: What is a levy rate?

A: A levy rate is the amount of property tax per $1,000 of assessed property value to fund a voter approved levy amount. A levy rate of $1.00 means that for every $1,000 of property value, the owner of the property will have to pay $1.00 in taxes.

In Finley School District, the proposed Levy rate on the April 26, 2022 ballot is is $2.33 in 2023 and $2.37 in 2024.

Q: How often can school districts run levies?

A: Voters can approve an EP&O levy for up to four years. Finley School District typically runs two-year levies. After the allotted number of years, the levy expires and must be renewed (similar to a subscription). Districts typically then go back to their voters and ask for a renewal, or replacement levy.

Q: Is there a limit on the dollar amount a district may propose for a levy?

A: Yes. This maximum dollar amount is known as the “levy lid.” As part of the changes the Legislature made to the way the state funds education in Washington, also known as the “McCleary decision,” levy rates are capped at $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. A levy may not collect more than $2,500 per student maximum, a dollar threshold which is adjusted annually based on inflation. This “levy lid” rule is the reason why Finley’s levy tax rate dropped dramatically beginning in 2019. (See Finley’s Tax Rate History chart above.)

Q: Is there a tax break for senior citizens?

A: Yes! Washington State law provides two tax benefit programs for senior citizens and individuals who are disabled: property tax exemptions and property tax deferrals. For more information on qualifications, please contact the Benton County Assessor's office at 509-786-5620.

Q: What are “state match dollars”?

A: Many school districts can qualify for additional financial assistance from the state of Washington to help build or modernize facilities. The state determines the amount of square footage that each student needs (the amounts are different for elementary, middle, and high schools) and assigns a dollar amount per square foot based on current average construction cost estimates. Both new construction and remodeling projects can be eligible for state assistance. While these matching funds are helpful for bond projects, only a limited percentage of actual costs are typically covered using this formula, leaving the rest of the cost to the school district and the local community (via a bond or capital levy).