FAQ

(Q1)

I read your arguments. But I really, really want this tax measure to pass anyway. What can I do if it fails?

(A1)

One suggestion for you is to use the provided interactive calculator available on the cost link above. Enter the AV (assessed value) of the specified tax year of your property or rental unit to determine the amount in dollars that would have been taxed and collected each future year of the new measure. And then voluntarily donate that amount to the school district.  While we disagree on the tax measure, I respect you for standing by your principles.

(Q2)

Why would anyone object to a school district tax measure?

(A2)

It is called democracy. And in our democracy, we have the freedom of speech. We question authority. Pro and con arguments regarding tax measures should be allowed, encouraged, and appreciated. Spirited debate helps to vet the issues and facts. Voters can then weigh the pros and cons and then decide for themselves. Taxpayers have limits. School districts, and all institutions private and public, need to become more efficient and effective.  

(Q3)

Why are there generally only pro arguments in the public local voters’ pamphlet (LVP)?

(A3)

Prior to 2020, voters’ pamphlets were optional for the so-called special elections in February and April. School districts could opt to not allow them for their own measures. Only a few school districts chose to allow voters’ pamphlets in the special elections. They thought  it was the right thing to do. In 2020 and beyond however, the law changed in a unanimous vote by legislators. Voters’ pamphlets are no longer optional. They are a requirement for all elections. They were always required for the August and November elections.

But a remaining problem is that school districts are tasked with advertising for, finding, and selecting pro committee members AND con committee members for their own measures. It is a conflict of interest. 

When school districts fail to find con committee members (the usual case), at the last minute, the county elections office has to scramble since they now only have a day or two to quickly try to find volunteers. And they usually fail. Almost all local news sources also fail in their duty to inform the public with a PSA announcing the need for pro and/or con committee volunteers in a timely manner. 
The result is a largely one-sided debate in the public voters' pamphlet. This situation is why the author and others are calling for a policy change.

https://schooldataproject.com/report_levies_recommended_policy_changes

School districts are "supposed" to find members of the community who are known to oppose their tax measures to give the con argument for the public voters' pamphlet. Here is an example con statement (of several) that is really another pro statement from this February 13th 2024 election, Colfax SD, Whitman County. This is an insult to citizens who expect and deserve fair elections.

Link to the Whitman County Elections Website

(Q4)

Why are your per pupil expenditures (PPE) higher than the OSPI’s PPE?

(A4)

You will note that my PPE numbers include current expenditures, 6 year rolling average of capital outlays, and interest on debt. “Current expenditures” is an accounting term that means short term spending within a year (such as staff salaries, benefits, and pension funding).


The OSPI reps do not explain their PPE on their report cards. I have tried to convince the OSPI to at least state clearly their definition. The OSPI is NOT including capital outlays and interest on debt.

Link to the interactive PPE vs low income students chart

(Q5)

My district is claiming that certain senior citizens might be able to be exempt from paying for this tax measure. Is that a good thing?

(A5)

Yes and no. It clearly shows that the school district realizes it is overly taxing people who may need to eventually move because of their escalating tax measures. It is good financially for the citizens who obtain the exemption. They will pay lower property taxes.

But the negative aspect is that the seniors with the exemption no longer have skin in the game. If they vote yes, they are voting to increase someone else’s property taxes – not their own. And remember that we taxpayers are voting on an amount in dollars that will be collected – not a future tax rate. So if/when some citizens are exempt, that just transfers a higher tax burden onto those citizens without the exemption. School districts never seem to mention that part.