Bellingham Public Schools

Questions & Answers: Simple Majority Bill EHJR 4204


How does Washington's current school levy system work?  Currently, local school levies must receive both a 60% supermajority approval and meet the 40% validation requirement to pass.

What would EHJR 4204 do?  EHJR 4204 would amend the Washington State Constitution and would provide that a simple majority of voters (50% + 1) could authorize local school district levies. The amendment also removes the 40% election validation requirement for levy elections.  It does NOT apply to school bond elections. EHJR 4204 will be on the Nov. 6 ballot. 

What do school levies pay for?  Local levies support local school district needs that are not funded from either the state or federal government. In Bellingham Public Schools, levies help support education programs and school operations such as smaller class size, school bus transportation, special education, work with English language learners, competitive salaries for teachers and other staff, textbooks and instructional materials, technology for student learning, electricity and natural gas to keep our schools warm, preventative maintenance and more. Our Maintenance and Operations levy pays for about 20% of the Bellingham School District's 2007-08 operating budget.

What happens if school levies don't pass?  Some school levies have failed because they do not meet the supermajority requirement. School districts pay for levy elections. If school districts need to run a subsequent election for the same levy, it will take money away from educational programs. 

Do all types of levies require a supermajority to pass?  No, they do not.  Regular tax levies do not require supermajority approval. Other taxing jurisdictions can pass levies to operate prisons, public hospitals, metropolitan parks, and other facilities with a simple majority vote.  School districts, however, are held to the supermajority standard to pass a local levy.  

Whatcom County ballots for the Nov. 6 general election will be mailed to registered voters on Oct. 17, 2007.

To register to vote, to check if you are registered or to update your information, go to http://www.secstate.wa.gov/elections. For the Nov. 6 general election, the last day for mail-in voter registration and address transfer is Oct. 6. The last day for in-person registration at the Auditor's Office for voters not already registered in the state is Oct. 22.  If voters have moved after the close of voter registration, they can e-mail their new address to elections@co.whatcom.wa.us or call 676-6742 and request to have their ballot mailed to their new address.