the Olympia School District logo, a line drawing of the capitol dome with the Letters O, S, and D at the base


School District

1113 Legion Way SE
Olympia, WA 98501
Office: (360) 596-6100

Olympia School District

February 9, 2016 Special Election

Frequently Asked Questions


How do I register to vote?

Thurston County residents may continue to register to vote in person through February 1 at the Thurston County Auditor’s Office. Learn more about in-person voter registration.

Where can I vote?

This is vote-by-mail election only. Ballots will be mailed on Wednesday, January 20. Completed ballots must be postmarked by Election Day February 9, 2016 or dropped off postage-free in ballot drop boxes located throughout the Olympia School District. For a list of ballot drop box locations, visit the Thurston County Elections Division website.

Are there tax exemptions for low-income senior citizens and people with disabilities?

Yes. Low-income senior citizens and people with disabilities may qualify for a tax exemption. For more information, visit the Thurston County Assessor’s website or call (360) 867-2200.

Where can I get more information about the school district’s two proposed ballot measures in the Special Election?

More information is available on this district website or by calling the district at (360) 596-6100. We have also set up an email specifically for election-related questions. Email questions to

What is the combined cost for the school measures?

Based on the district’s current (2015) tax rate of $5.23, the bond and levy would result in a new combined tax rate of $5.46 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.  The average homeowner of a $250,000 house will pay an estimated $58 more per year, or about $5 more per month, for the bond and levy.

The estimated tax rate is within two cents of the school district’s projections four years ago when outlining for voters the projected cost for Phase II school improvement projects.

Proposition 1: Replacement of Expiring Educational Maintenance and Operations Levy

What is an Educational Maintenance and Operations Replacement Levy?

An Educational Maintenance and Operations Levy, often referred to as an M & O levy, is a replacement levy to cover the gap between state funding and the cost of existing education programs. Districts may place levy measures for up to four years on the local ballot. The Olympia School District is requesting a four-year replacement levy.

Is this a new tax?

No. This is a renewal of the local school levy which expires this year. This ballot replaces a levy approved by Olympia School District voters in February 2012.

What does the replacement levy pay for?

The four-year replacement levy pays for about 21 percent this year, or nearly one-quarter of the district’s annual operating budget. It supports district educational programs and services including teaching; school supplies; athletics; arts and music; transportation; and facilities operations.

What does the proposed replacement levy cost in each of the four years?

Feb. 2016 Request for 2017: $25,500,000

Tax rate: $3.12 per $1,000 of assessed valuation

Feb. 2016 Request for 2018: $26,300,000

Tax rate: $3.09 per $1,000 of assessed valuation

Feb. 2016 Request for 2019: $27,100,000

Tax rate: $3.07 per $1,000 of assessed valuation

Feb. 2016 Request for 2020: $27,900,000

Tax rate: $3.06 per $1,000 of assessed valuation

How does this proposed replacement levy cost compare to the existing tax rate?

Tax rate in 2015: $3.07 per $1,000 of assessed valuation

Tax rate in 2016: $3.04 per $1,000 of assessed valuation

How many votes are required by state law to pass a school levy?

School levies require a majority vote — 50 percent plus one, to pass.

Proposition 2: Bonds to Construct and Renovate School Facilities and Make Safety Improvements

What does the proposed school bond address?

The proposed bond projects, ranging from remodels to new construction, address continued enrollment growth, smaller class sizes, school safety and security, and aging buildings.

The 2016 school bond projects address Phase II — or a continuation of facility improvement projects approved by voters in the last school bond in 2012.

Phase I included projects such as construction of the Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA) building and renovations at Garfield Elementary and Jefferson Middle schools. The district informed voters in 2012 that Phase II projects would address other facility planning needs as identified in the district’s 2011 Master Plan.

How much is the district enrollment projected to grow?

In the next 10 years, district enrollment is projected to grow by nearly 1,400 students.

What about Initiative 1351 and smaller class sizes?

Implementation of Initiative 1351 would have the following impact on school space:

  • 26-35% reduction in K-3 class size.
  • 7-11% reduction in grades 4-5 class size.
  • 11-18% reduction in middle/high school class size.

Where can I find a list of the proposed projects?

Specifics about the proposed bond projects, ranging from remodels to new construction, are included on the election information Web page on this district website. The election page features links to fliers outlining projects proposed at each of the district schools.

How does the proposed school bond cost compare to the existing tax rate?

The 2015 tax rate for existing school bonds is $1.56 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. In 2018, the first year that the proposed bond sale would occur, the tax rate would be $2.05 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

How many votes are required by state law to pass a school bond?v

A bond measure requires a supermajority — 60 percent plus one vote to pass.