This site provides information using PDF, visit this link to download the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC software.

Levy News Banner Graphic

Ferndale School Board Will Ask Voters to Approve Levy in November

The Ferndale School Board will ask voters to replace the current School Programs and Operations Levy in the November 3 election. The district will ask voters to approve the levy at $1.50 per thousand of assessed value for two years – lower than the current rate of 2.17 per thousand of assessed value.

This is not a new tax. If approved, the levy replaces the current levy used to fund schools, which expires in January 2021.

Ferndale School Board President Andrew McLaurin says, “We recognize these are difficult times for our community and our nation. However, after a levy failure in February we need to again ask our community to consider approving our local levy, which allow us to help pay for school staff, programs, technology and student services and opportunities.”

The district is cutting 102 positions for the 2020-21 school year due to the February levy failure. The levy, at this lower amount, will allow the district to restore some programs and reduce the need for future cuts.

In Ferndale, levy funding would protect jobs for staff and programs for our students, including:

  • School staff. The levy funds nurses, teachers, security officers, counselors and paraeducators, beyond what our state allocates.
  • School services and programs. The levy funds and supports special education, advanced learning, lower class sizes and our 8-period high school schedule, which allows more elective classes.
  • Technology for both school and at-home learning. The levy funds much-needed technology for our students and staff, including providing students in grades 6-12 their own computer, which can be used for both classroom and at home learning.
  • Student services and opportunities. The levy allows our students to participate in extracurricular activities like athletics, music, drama and clubs

This information was shared in a news release on June 17, 2020 and can be viewed on our website: https://www.ferndalesd.org/news/1683429/ferndale-school-board-will-ask-voters-to-approve-levy-in-november

 

Ferndale School District to seek levy in November
to restore partial funding

Ferndale School District is asking voters to consider renewing the School Programs and Operations Levy in the November 3 election.  A February request to replace the levy was not approved, and the April 28 election was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

This is not a new tax, but replaces the current levy that we use to fund our schools, which expires in January 2021. Even with approval of this levy, our district will continue to tighten our belts and make cuts to our budget to ensure we are operating efficiently. The district is cutting 102 positions for the 2020-21 school year due to the levy failure, and approval of the levy would help limit further cuts to staff and schools.

Renewal of the levy would continue to fund the gap between state funding and the cost to operate the district, including:

  • School staffing positions such as nurses, counselors, psychologists, paraeducators, social workers and native and Latino student advisors
  • School services and programs like advanced learning and Special Education services
  • Technology supports and 1:1 devices for grades 6-12, which will help with continuous learning if school buildings are again closed.
  • Opportunities for extracurricular activities, such as athletics, art, drama, band and clubs

The district will have more details, including the tax rate, later this summer.

Why do school districts need levies?

School districts are funded through state, local and federal dollars. Most districts rely on local voter-approved levies and bonds to fully fund education and to maintain and build schools.

Levies are for learning. Ongoing levies provide funding for student programs, services and staff, beyond what the state funds.

Bonds are for building. The state provides limited funding for major school construction projects, so schools use bonds to fund large construction projects, like rebuilding Ferndale High School. For updates on our 2019 bond, visit https://www.ferndalesd.org/business-support-services/bond-2019

Ferndale School Board Removes Levy Proposal, “Focus is on COVID-19 Response.”

The Ferndale School Board made the decision to postpone a School Programs and Operations Levy request scheduled for the April 28 election. The decision was made to focus on COVID-19 response. This decision was shared in a news release on March 18, 2020 and can be viewed on our website:

https://www.ferndalesd.org/news/1677192/ferndale-school-board-will-remove-levy-proposal-focus-is-on-covid-19-response

The need to renew levy funds does not go away. K-12 education is not fully funded. The Ferndale School District relies on local voter-approved levies to fill the gap between what the state funds and what students need. The replacement levy continues funding for staff, programs, student opportunities and services. 

This web page will be updated with specific information about new plans for a School Programs and Operations Levy request at a later date.

April 2020 Levy Replacement Information and Resources

Ferndale School District is asking voters to consider renewing the School Programs and Operations Levy in the April 28 election. If approved at $2.17, this rate would go into effect in January 2021 and replace the existing levy.

The levy continues critical funding. K-12 education is still not fully funded by the state. In Washington, school districts need to ask voters to renew ongoing levies to fund staff, programs and academic supports for students. 

The levy continues funding at the current tax rate. If approved on April 28, the levy would continue funding at the same tax rate that voters last approved in 2016. This is not a new tax, but replaces the current levy that we use to fund our schools, which expires in January 2021. Even with approval of this levy, our district will continue to tighten our belts and make cuts to our budget to ensure we are operating efficiently. 
Renewal of the levy would continue to fund the gap between state funding and the cost to operate the district, including:

  • School staffing positions such as nurses, counselors, psychologists, paraeducators, social workers and native and Latino student advisors
  • School services and programs like advanced learning and Special Education services
  • Opportunities for extracurricular activities, such as athletics, art, drama, band and clubs

School staff. The levy funds nurses, teacher salaries, security officers, counselors and custodians, beyond what our state allocates. Thanks to levy funds, we can assure that our students and schools have the staff needed.

  • The state funds 3 nurses, we employ 5
  • The state funds .6 security officers, we employ 11
  • The state funds 8 paraeducators, who are in our classrooms providing academic supports every day. We employ 125.
  • The state funds .12 school psychologists but we employ 5. 
  • The state funds .3 social workers but we employ 7 Family Community Coordinators Native American Support Specialists. 
  • The state funds 9 guidance counselors but we employ 12.

School services and programs. The levy funds and supports programs such as special education, advanced learning, ensuring lower class sizes and our 8-hour high school schedule, allowing students to take more elective classes.

  • The state provides about $7 million for special education, but to meet our students’ needs, we spend $11.1 million.
  • The state provides a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:19, but in Ferndale, we are able to provide smaller classrooms, with a ratio of 1:16

Student services and opportunities. We know school is more than just academics, and the levy allows our students to participate in athletics, music, band and clubs. We are grateful to booster clubs and local donations for support, but the majority of funding for these opportunities are through levy dollars.

  • The state provides ZERO funding for athletics. We pay $520,758 for coaches, fields, transportation and equipment.
  • The state provides ZERO funding for arts, drama, band and clubs. We fund  $359,715 for these opportunities

What will the measure cost?

The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed home value is used by our district to ensure continued level of services in our schools.

  • This is a replacement levy, not a new tax
  • The rate of $2.17 per $1,000 of assessed home value continues the same rate that voters approved in 2016. That levy expires December 31, 2020.
  • The state initially capped school districts at $1.50 tax rate, but then after realizing that still did not provide enough funding to schools, allowed districts to collect up to $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed home value.
  • The district continues to decrease our reliance on local levy funds, from 25 percent of our overall budget in 2016 to 13 percent in the 2018-19 school year.

Levy Frequently Asked Questions

The levy pays for everyone we employ and everything we do that is not funded by the State. The State provides us dollars on what they call “the prototypical school model.” According to this model, our School District receives funding for less than one full-time nurse for all ten of our school sites. We employ four nurses. The other three are paid for our of levy dollars. In almost every staff category, we employ more people than funded by the State formula.

The levy also pays for things like our extracurricular activities and sports programs, our School Resource Officer and safety programs, and a significant portion of the technology we have in the District.

For a more complete list of what we will need to cut to reduce our budget by $7.2 million, please refer to the PowerPoint that can be accessed on this webpage.

A levy is a short-term local property tax passed by the voters of a school district. A local levy can be approved for up to four years. Currently, Ferndale voters are being asked to consider a two-year levy at $2.17 per thousand of assessed value which will be for the calendar years 2021 and 2022.

Yes. All seven Whatcom County public school districts asked voters for levy renewals in February 2020. School districts in Ferndale, Bellingham, Meridian, Mt. Baker, Lynden, Nooksack, Blaine each had local levies on respective February ballots. Ferndale's levy renewal request was the only Whatcom County school district request that did not pass.

Statewide, nearly all school districts rely on local levies for a portion of their budgets. Of the 295 districts in Washington, 145 of them asked for levy renewals in February 2020.

The State will allow the School District to run the levy two times in a calendar year.

The state has established election dates when a levy measure may be put to voters for consideration. Those elections dates are February 11, April 28, August 4, or November 3.

Voters considered a first request in February 2020 at a rate of $2.50 per thousand of assessed value. That request was not approved. The Board has chosen to rerun the levy in the April 28th election at the $2.17 rate for two years.

A levy is like a magazine subscription. If you do not renew a magazine subscription, you stop getting the magazine. In the same way, if we do not renew our levy, the local levy funding runs out on December 31, 2020 -- which means all of the programs supported by the levy will lose their funding at that time. 

The State Legislature’s formula for basic education falls below the current levels of staffing and services provided by our School District. To make up the difference, the State requires districts to rely on local school levies. The Ferndale School District, like all of the other school districts in Whatcom County and almost all of the other districts in the State, require levies to maintain acceptable levels of staffing and services.

If the levy is not renewed the school district will lose 13 percent of its operating budget beginning on January 1, 2021. This means cutting support and programs for students.

The state did pass a McCleary fix, but it still  doesn’t cover the full cost of education. Ferndale School District relies on local levy dollars to make up the difference between what the state funds and what it costs to maintain our current level of service to students and families. In addition, the state does not provide the majority of funding for construction or capital improvement projects.

The short answer is no. We have 29 people doing administrative/leadership work in our district in 2019, and we had 29 people doing administrative/leadership work in 2009. For more information on this topic -- and a complete list of administrators from 2009 and administrators in 2019 -- refer to the PowerPoint (specifically slides 45-53) at this link on our levy page.

In the chart below, we have provided a numerical comparison of our student and staff numbers from 2009 and 2019. Please note that all of the numbers are reported in FTE (for Full Time Equivalency).

  2009 2019 difference
Student Enrollment 4,588.23 FTE 4,469.58 FTE -118.65
Certificated Staff 335.13 FTE 326.12 FTE -9.01
Classified Staff  196.94 FTE 217.10 FTE +20.16

If the District were to sell the property on Church Road, the proceeds from the sale cannot legally be put into the general fund to offset lost levy dollars. These funds would need to be used for capital projects.

We are educating students at Beach at very close to the same per pupil rate as we are educating students in our mainland elementary schools, so closing Beach would not save us money. In fact, it might even cost us more to transport the Beach population to the mainland.

Students riding the ferry to and from school are not required to pay a fare. In addition, one adult chaperone is allowed to ride the ferry free to accompany mainland children who commute back and forth to Lummi Island to attend Beach School.

No. At the time that we ran the bond, the Legislature had set a cap of $1.50 per thousand maximum for local levies. When projecting future tax rates and amounts during bond discussions, the District used the $1.50 / assessed value because there was not another number to use. At the time, that was the number that we had to work with.

The Legislature has since raised the cap to $2.50 because they determined that the $1.50 was not enough. School districts across the state were announcing they were going to be insolvent without an increase in revenue. The Ferndale School District is asking voters to renew the levy at $2.17 per thousand of assessed value - a rate below the $2.50 maximum.

The current rate 2020 levy rate is $2.17 per thousand of assessed value.

This is not a new tax. It is a replacement levy. We have an existing levy that expires at the end of 2020. Our current 2020 levy rate is $2.17 per thousand of assessed value. We are asking voters to replace the expiring levy at exactly the same rate - $2.17 for calendar year 2021 and 2022.

No, the levy is not a new tax but a replacement levy that will continue funding existing programing. 

Some senior citizens and disabled residents in Whatcom County may be eligible for property tax relief. To learn more visit https://www.whatcomcounty.us/297/Property-Tax-Relief-Exemptions

  • School districts rely on voter-approved funding measures to cover costs not funded by the state. All funds approved by voters stay in our community for students and schools.
  • Levies support districts and student programs and help pay for many of the day-to-day operational costs of schools. For our district, we renew our levies every four years.
  • Bonds allow districts to collect money up front for major construction projects, and the debt is paid off over 20 years.

Ferndale School District Levy News and Information


PowerPoint Resource Following February 2020 Levy Failure

The following presentation was created and shared following the levy failure on the February 2020 ballot as the Ferndale School Board considered next steps. It provides information about what no levy funding could mean in the Ferndale School District and proposed cuts.
This presentation was first shared at the February 17th, 2020 School Board Meeting. Versions of this PowerPoint were shared at the School Board Meeting, an optional all-staff meeting and at two Community Forums during a time span of February 17 to February 24.
The Ferndale School Board then voted at its February 25, 2020 meeting to place the levy on the April 2020 ballot at a rate of $2.17 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Please note, this presentation has been revised in several version updates as the school district discusses, evaluates and refines how our budget may be impacted. We will provide any further updates and revisions to the presentation information on this website page with revision dates noted. 

(Revised Version 2/24/20) Levy Failure: Next Steps


​​​​​​Archived February 2020 School Programs & Operations Replacement Levy Resources
Archived Facebook Live Broadcasts