The legislature recognizes the importance of providing accurate levy authorization information so that Washington voters are able to make informed decisions about ballot measures and engage as full participants in local elections. The legislature also recognizes that the format and delivery of this information can vary greatly across school districts and communities. The current lack of standardization in communication between school districts and voters can lead to confusion and misinformation about the cost, duration, and impact of school district levies, impacting property taxes within communities. Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to provide a uniform template to increase transparency and ensure that voters are provided with access to accurate information about school funding measures that impact their communities and their taxes.
The board of directors of any school district shall have authority to authorize the expenditure of funds for the purpose of preparing and distributing information to the general public to explain the instructional program, operation and maintenance of the schools of the district: PROVIDED, That nothing contained herein shall be construed to authorize preparation and distribution of information to the general public for the purpose of influencing the outcome of a school district election.
When using public resources to provide information to the general public regarding the authorization of a levy under RCW 84.52.053(1) including, but not limited to, school district newsletters, handouts, phone calls, or emails, a school district must use a standardized template that contains only the following information:
The title of the measure;
The year or years funded by the measure;
The total dollar amount of levy revenue the school district collects under the levy as it currently exists, if applicable;
The total dollar amount of levy revenue the school district will be authorized to collect under the proposed levy if the measure is approved;
The total difference between the dollar amount collected under the current levy and the dollar amount to be collected under the proposed levy, for each year in the proposed levy period;
Whether the proposed levy is a replacement levy and, if so, the percentage of qualified voters that authorized the existing levy;
A statement acknowledging that the school district cannot predict how an individual's overall property taxes will be affected by the levy authorization;
A statement from the school district, not to exceed 100 words, describing the proposed levy;
ix. **A list of the current school board members and the school superintendent, and their official contact information.**
School districts may not use the words "replacement levy," "not a new tax," or "same rate" to describe a proposed levy if the total dollar amount requested represents an increased amount from the prior approved levy.
This subsection (2) does not apply to political committees as defined in RCW 42.17A.005.
The limitations imposed by RCW 84.52.050 through 84.52.056, and 84.52.043 shall not prevent the levy of taxes by school districts, when authorized so to do by the voters of such school district in the manner and for the purposes and number of years allowable under Article VII, section 2(a) and Article IX, section 1 of the Constitution of this state. Elections for such taxes shall be held in the year in which the levy is made or, in the case of propositions authorizing two-year through four-year levies for enrichment funding for a school district, authorizing two-year levies for transportation vehicle funds established in RCW 28A.160.130 or authorizing two-year through six-year levies to support the construction, modernization, or remodeling of school facilities, which includes the purposes of RCW 28A.320.330(2) (f) and (g), in the year in which the first annual levy is made.
Once additional tax levies have been authorized for enrichment funding for a school district for a two-year through four-year period as provided under subsection (1) of this section, no further additional tax levies for enrichment funding for the district for that period may be authorized, except for additional levies to provide for subsequently enacted increases affecting the district's maximum levy.
Notwithstanding (a) of this subsection, any school district that is required to annex or receive territory pursuant to a dissolution of a financially insolvent school district pursuant to RCW 28A.315.225 may call either a replacement or supplemental levy election within the school district, including the territory annexed or transferred, as follows:
An election for a proposition authorizing two-year through four-year levies for enrichment funding for a school district may be called and held before the effective date of dissolution to replace existing enrichment levies and to provide for increases due to the dissolution.
An election for a proposition authorizing additional tax levies may be called and held before the effective date of dissolution to provide for increases due to the dissolution.
In the event a replacement levy election under (b)(i) of this subsection is held but does not pass, the affected school district may subsequently hold a supplemental levy election pursuant to (b)(ii) of this subsection if the supplemental levy election is held before the effective date of dissolution. In the event a supplemental levy election is held under (b)(ii) of this subsection but does not pass, the affected school district may subsequently hold a replacement levy election pursuant to (b)(i) of this subsection if the replacement levy election is held before the effective date of dissolution. Failure of a replacement levy or supplemental levy election does not affect any previously approved and existing enrichment levy within the affected school district or districts.
For the purpose of applying the limitation of this subsection (2), a two-year through six-year levy to support the construction, modernization, or remodeling of school facilities shall not be deemed to be a tax levy for enrichment funding for a school district.
A special election may be called and the time therefor fixed by the board of school directors, by giving notice thereof by publication in the manner provided by law for giving notices of general elections, at which special election the proposition authorizing such excess levy shall be submitted in such form as to enable the voters favoring the proposition to vote "yes" and those opposed thereto to vote "no."
Beginning September 1, 2018, school districts may use enrichment levies solely to enrich the state's statutory program of basic education as authorized under RCW 28A.150.276.
Beginning with propositions for enrichment levies for collection in calendar year 2020 and thereafter, a district must receive approval of an enrichment levy expenditure plan from the superintendent of public instruction under RCW 28A.505.240 before submission of the proposition to the voters.
Information provided by school districts to the general public regarding the authorization of levies under subsection (1) of this section must be provided in the manner prescribed in RCW 28A.320.090. Nothing in this subsection (5) applies to political committees as defined in RCW 42.17A.005.