February 11th Educational Programs & Operations Levy - Frequently Asked Questions

A: Levies are for learning! Levies are used to pay for educational programs the state does not fully fund or in some case like athletics not fund at all. In White River, the levy funds student opportunities in arts, music and athletics, as well as mental health services, early learning, special education, teachers, nurses, counselors, campus security officers, paraeducators and playground staff. Bonds are restricted to sites and buildings, including structural changes and additions to existing facilities. Bonds are paid back over the long term, similar to a mortgage - typically 17 to 20 years. 

A: Approximately 585 students in the White River School District receive special education and related services, from birth through  21. The federal and state funding models do not provide adequate funding to provide the necessary services for our special education students. Currently, the special education budget is subsidized by the levy by almost 1 million dollars. This means dollars are taken out of the general budget to support special education costs. The majority of our Special Education dollars pay for staffing such as school psychologists, teachers, paraprofessionals, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists. These dollars also pay for professional development, supplies and materials, assistive technology, and transportation.

Our data shows us that students who participate in our early learning programs go into Kindergarten with the skills they need for success! We started preschool in 2016 and have already served 317 students. This year, we have 90 preschoolers.. Early learning success is a predictor of high school graduation! 

A: ASB fees pay for things like athletic transportation, officials and referees, event workers and supervision, sports equipment, entry and tournament fees, trainers, and membership and league fees. Booster Clubs also help with the cost of uniforms, some trips and travel, and extra athletic equipment.

A: While our District did receive some additional funding from the state as part of the so-called “McCleary fix,” the state is still not fully funding K-12 education. White River School District, like other school districts in our state, have to rely on voter-approved levies to make up the funding difference to continue to provide student opportunities in arts, music and athletics, as well as mental health services, early learning, special education, teachers, nurses, counselors, campus security officers, paraeducators and playground staff.
A: Counselors provide instruction to students on anti-bullying and support for social skills. They meet students and peers to problem solve, and coordinate with teachers, principals and families on plans of support. They ensure on-time graduation and help students pursue post high school options. Our mental health professionals connect students with therapists, provide mental health awareness, suicide prevention and healthy coping skills. They also target groups for trauma and skill building with our students in special educational behavior programs.
A: Nurses administer medication, provide nursing assessments, create Health Care Plans for students, locate resources for medical needs, perform vision and hearing screenings, and assist with absence management. In White River, we currently have 218 students with life-threatening health conditions. On average, 40-50 students visit each nurse’s office daily!

A: The Board of Directors is committed to providing competitive compensation for all employees and this includes members of the administrative team. Salary and benefit information from both neighboring and similarly sized districts is collected, analyzed, and provided to the Board for the purposes of determining compensation schedules.  

A: The District’s tax rate is made up of three different layers; the bond, a capital levy, and the Educational Programs & Operations (EP&O) levy. The bond is for all of our major building projects, like the expansion of Elk Ridge Elementary, Wilkeson Elementary, and Glacier Middle School. The capital levy will fund the slightly smaller expansion of Foothills Elementary. The EP&O levy funds student opportunities in arts, music and athletics, as well as mental health services, early learning, special education, teachers, nurses, counselors, campus security officers, paraeducators and playground staff.
A: Wickersham houses our technology department to include a training classroom, and our special education transition program serving students 18 to 21 years of age. It’s also the home of the Elk Ridge Kids Klub and the White River Family Center.
A: As a taxpayer with a home valued at the following amounts, the estimated monthly tax would be:
$300,000 = $25
$400,000 = $33
$500,000 = $42
A: The District’s graduation rate is nearly 94%. This exceeds the State graduation rate of 80%. In the last three years, White River High School students have generated over $6M in scholarship awards. 70% of high school graduates go on to attend either a two or four year college, university or trade school. We have been able to present an incredible balance of course offerings at the high school to include CTE, AP, dual credit and numerous art and music opportunities.
Our schools have received state and national awards for academic excellence. Mountain Meadow Elementary school is the highest performing elementary school in Pierce County and is a finalist for the DuFour Award, one of the most prestigious educational awards in the country. Hundreds of educators visit the district each year to observe the work of our teacher teams. We have been honored to host a number of national and international conferences at our district. Books and journal articles have been written about the educational practices in the White River School District.
We are also proud of the athletic success and tradition at White River High School. In the last five years, several of our teams have won the South Puget Sound League Team Sportsmanship Award. We are equally proud of the number of coaches each season who receive Coach of the Year Awards.
We are very pleased to offer preschool to our youngest learners at no cost to parents. We are also very fortunate to have integrated leading edge technology instruction in our classrooms.
A: The City of Buckley recently approved the collection of impact fees for the White River School District. Impact fees are a one-time fee assessed on new residential construction and paid at the time of permitting. The District has collected these fees in the past; however, during times of declining enrollment and very little community growth, the District suspended these fees for several years. An increase in residential construction throughout the District prompted us to re-instate the fees which required formal approval by the City. The use of impact fees is very restrictive; the funds may only be spent to expand school facilities. The District also collects these fees from the City of Bonney Lake and Pierce County.