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Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien,WA 98166

Office Hours:

Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

2018 Levy

Highline voters were asked to renew an educational programs and operations levy in February 2018 to replace an expiring levy. The levy passed with results showing more than 58% voting in favor of renewal.

Local levy funding allows us to provide the quality education our community expects for our children, which goes beyond the minimum funded by the state.

Levy dollars pay for needs not fully funded by the state, such as:

  • Additional teachers and support staff 
  • Educational help for students with special needs
  • Outdoor education experiences at Camp Waskowitz, including sixth-grade camp
  • Extended learning opportunities for students who need extra help
  • Athletic programs
  • School nurses (State funding pays for only three school nurses to serve our entire district; we pay for 15 nurses who serve medically fragile students as well as general health and safety needs.)
  • Teacher training days
  • School security officers

Cost Information

The 2018 levy measure will raise a maximum of $198 million over four years.

The estimated levy rate is $1.50 per $1000 in assessed home valuation. Here is the maximum amount that can be collected:

  • 2019: $47,329,540
  • 2020: $48,749,426
  • 2021: $50,211,909
  • 2022: $51,718,266

In comparison, the 2017 levy tax rate was $3.38 per $1,000 assessed home value with a maximum collection of $60.8 million.  

The district cannot collect more than the amount approved by voters. If property values rise, tax rates decrease so that the dollar amount you pay remains the same. The district does not receive a windfall as property values go up.

The state education funding plan is a step in the right direction, but the state is not yet fully covering all basic education costs. We still need a local levy.

The new state plan reduces the amount of funding we can request from local taxpayers when we renew our educational programs levy. Even with passage of a renewal levy, we will actually see a net reduction in funding after 2018 unless lawmakers make changes to the current funding plan.

Our levy makes up 21 percent of our current revenue. Levy failure will mean significant reductions in staff, programs, and services for students.

Levy FAQ

I thought the Legislature fixed education funding. Schools are getting more money from the state. Aren’t schools fully funded now?

School funding is a work in progress. Not all education costs are fully funded yet. The state is not covering the full cost of staff pay and benefits, special education, transportation, school security, teacher training days, school nurses, and other critical needs.

I heard there is an increase in state property taxes. Can you help me figure out what to expect in with my property tax rate?

Over the next year, there will be an increase in state property tax rates and a decrease in our school district property tax rates.

  • Starting in 2018, the state portion of property taxes is projected to increase by $0.82 - $1.01 per $1,000 of assessed value.
  • If approved by voters, starting in 2019 our local school district property tax rate is estimated to be $1.50 – down from $3.38 per $1,000 in 2017.

Overall, Highline homeowners will see school property taxes go down by $1.06 - $ per $1,000 of assessed value. Here it is by the numbers:

$0.82-$1.01 (state increase) +  $1.50 (local levy) = $2.32 - $2.51
$3.38 (2017 levy rate) - $2.32 - $2.51 (new rate) = $1.06 - $0.87 (net reduction in property taxes)

The funding plan passed by the legislature is a step in the right direction, but the state is not yet fully funding basic education. The state Supreme Court ruled that even with the increased state funding this year, basic education costs are not fully covered. The legislature’s plan will not be fully funded for three years, and even then it will likely not fully cover the actual costs of basic education. We rely on local levy funding to make up the difference between state funding and the actual costs of educating students.

The Legislature passed a state property tax for education funding. Why do you need a local levy?

A portion of the property taxes that used to go directly to local schools will now go to the state. The state will then redistribute those dollars back to school districts. Local districts can still ask taxpayers for a levy, but for a much smaller amount.

With this property tax shift, Highline will actually see a net reduction in funding after our current levy expires at the end of 2018 unless the Legislature makes changes to the plan passed last session.

We will ask voters to replace our current levy in an upcoming election. We will ask for less money than in past years, but levy funding is still critical to pay for critical needs not yet fully funded by the state.

I thought the state eliminated the need for local levies?

The state Legislature increased state property taxes with the intent of lowering the local portion of school taxes, not eliminating them. This is step in the right direction, but it is not a perfect solution. Here’s why:

The state money must be spent in very specific ways.  Those restrictions eliminate much of our local control for programs our community wants in schools.


Some districts can ask voters for more money per student than others.  This is not an equitable solution because some districts will generate more funding than others.

Why are levies important and what will our local levy pay for?

Our levy will pay for critical needs not yet fully funded by the state. Some examples are:

  • Additional teachers and support staff beyond the minimum staffing funded by the state. This allows us to have smaller class sizes and more teachers and instructional assistants working with our students.
  • Educational help for students with special needs, since state and federal funding does not cover the full costs.
  • Outdoor education experiences at Camp Waskowitz, including sixth grade camp
  • Extended learning opportunities for students who need extra help
  • Athletic programs
  • School nurses (State funding pays for only three school nurses to serve our entire district; we pay for 15 nurses who serve medically fragile students as well as general health and safety needs.)
  • Teacher training days
  • School security officers

Why happens if the levy doesn't pass?

Our levy makes up 21 percent of our current revenue. Levy failure will mean significant reductions in staff, programs, and services for students.

What happens if property values increase?

If property values go up, the tax rate is adjusted downward. The school district does not collect more revenue as property values increase.

How will this tax impact senior citizens?

Low-income seniors and people with disabilities may qualify for an exemption. To apply for this exemption, call the King County Tax Exemptions Office at 206-296-3920 or visit the King County website.

What is the difference between a school bond and a school levy?

Levies are for learning. Levies raise funds for educating students and operating schools. When voters approve a levy, they are agreeing to pay taxes to fund these services.

Bonds are for building. Bonds pay for capital facilities needs. When voters approve a bond measure, it allows the school district to borrow money for facilities improvements. The district issues bonds to raise the money up front. Similar to a home mortgage, the district repays the money (plus interest) in installments over time. Bond dollars can only be used for capital improvements.