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Difference Between Bonds and Levies Explained

What is the difference between a bond and a levy? With the upcoming bond measure on the February 2017 ballot, this is one of the most frequent questions we receive.

Generally speaking, bonds are for building, levies are for learning. We'll explain:

Bonds - Generally, bonds are for the construction, or remodeling of schools - or for larger construction projects or systems upgrades. Bonds provide financing for a longer period of time, similar to home mortgages. In our case, Centralia is seeking approval for a 25 year term. Why do we need a bond to build or remodel schools? The answer is that Washington state funds education, but does not fund the cost of building new schools or renovating older schools. These are costly projects that must be done periodically as a community grows or as buildings wear out or are simply outgrown. Our average school age in Centralia is 70 years. CHS hasn't been remodeled or modernized since it was built in 1968. Both Jefferson Lincoln and Fords Prairie are well over capacity, and all of our schools need major safety and security upgrades.

While leaving funding of new schools up to local communities can seem burdensome to taxpayers, it also puts you in control of education in Centralia. Removing state bureaucracy from the process  leaves you in charge of the vision for Centralia Schools.

Levies- Levies are for learning. They are shorter term, smaller, financing tools for school districts. Centralia currently has a four year levy, which voters have generously renewed every two to four years for the past 44 years. Generally, levy funds are used by school district to improve technology access, purchase equipment, hire additional support staff that may not be funded by the state, and for the maintenance (not construction or remodeling) of facilities. By state law, levies can only account for up to 24 percent of a school district's annual budget. In a smaller district like Centralia this does not provide adequate funding for construction or remodeling of facilities. In fact, our Board of Directors has been cautious when seeking levy renewals, and our levy funds account for less than 16 percent of our annual budget.