Cheney School District

Skip to main content
Mobile Menu
Please Create A Marquee
Bond & Levy Information » Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Funding for education in the state of Washington is complicated and can lead to questions sprouting up about how schools receive the money needed to serve our community’s children. We all know money doesn’t grow on trees and funds for schools grow from three main seeds:


1) state funding for basic education,
2)bonds, and
3) levies.


The state of Washington is required to supply school districts with state funding for “basic education.” Funding for basic education is based on a “prototypical school model” which represents the Legislature’s allocation of resources required to provide the program of basic education.


Outside of state funding, schools may receive money for facilities, programs, and services from voter-approved bonds and levies. Because the funding provided by the state does not cover the actual costs to operate a school district, districts often utilize bonds and levies to bridge the gap.

The easiest way to remember the difference between a bond and a levy is: Bonds are for building and levies are for learning. (The statement “levies are for learning” primarily refers to enrichment levies.)  Bonds and levies provide schools with funds that must be used for specific purposes.
A levy is a local property tax passed by the voters of a school district that generates revenue to fund programs and services that the state does not pay for as part of “basic education.” Because the funding provided by the state does not cover the actual costs to operate a school district, districts often use levy funds to hire additional staff, or for student programming and services that are underfunded or not funded by the state. Some of the many things that levies help to fund may include: extracurricular activities, special education, transportation, food service, operations, grounds and maintenance, preschool, and other activities. There are three main types of levies: enrichment, capital, and transportation levies, although this is not a complete list.

Enrichment levies, also known as Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levies and Maintenance and Operations (M&O) levies, allow a school district to provide things like teachers, support staff, supplies and materials, or services that the state only partially funds. Funding provided by the state does not fully cover the actual costs to operate a school district, so enrichment levies fill in the gap.

Capital levies (which includes tech levies) to fund things like modern technology, enhanced building security, and smaller renovation projects. Capital levies can be approved for up to six years.
NOTE: In simple terms, a replacement levy is the renewal of an existing enrichment, capital, or transportation levy that is about to expire. Typically, if a district is asking for a replacement levy to be approved by voters, it means that it is simply the continuation of an existing tax.

A bond is a long-term investment that authorizes the district to purchase property for schools, construct new schools, or modernize existing schools. Bonds are sold to investors who are repaid with interest over time from property tax collections, generally between 12-20 years.
  • Paraeducator Staffing
  • Athletics and extracurricular activities 
  • Substitutes
  • Nurses & Health Aides 
  • YES Officers and & Security Specialists
  • Other enrichment activities 
Community members who reside within the Cheney Public Schools district boundaries are projected to pay the following per $1,000 of assessed home value in 2024: 
Educational Operations & Programs Levy: $1.30
Existing School Bonds: $1.37
Capital Tech Levy: $0.07
In 2023, district community members paid:
Educational Operations & Programs Levy: $1.31
Existing School Bonds: $1.42
Capital Tech Levy: $0.08

To assess Cheney Public Schools’ facilities needs, the district utilized parents and key stakeholders from each of the three distinct communities—Airway Heights, Cheney, and West Plains—to form the Long-Range Facilities Planning Committee. This committee collaborated for more than six months to determine the facilities needs of the district. Through the research and analysis of this community-based effort, the committee determined the district facility needs are as follows: one elementary school in Airway Heights, land for a second elementary school, and campus upgrades. The committee’s framework was presented to the school board in June 2023, and it was unanimously approved. 

If you are a senior citizen and/or disabled, you may be eligible for an exemption. The exemption applies to the primary residence and land on which it sits, up to one acre. Five acres are allowed if zoning permits it.
This program is administered by the Spokane County Assessor's Office. For application and further information, call 509-477-3698.
A levy rate is the amount of property tax per $1,000 of assessed property value to fund a voter-approved levy amount. A levy rate of $1.00 means that for every $1,000 of property value, the owner of the property will have to pay $1.00 in taxes.
Example: If a homeowner has a home valued at $200,000 and the levy rate is $1.00 for every $1,000 of assessed property value, the homeowner will pay $200 annually in property taxes.
Voters approve the total amount of the levy, not the rate.
Both the EP&O Levy and Capital Levy were approved for renewal in 2021. Our district relies on these two levies to support our students, staff, and schools. These levies run for three years and must be approved by voters to be renewed each time.
Yes. This maximum dollar amount is known as the “levy lid.” As part of the changes the Legislature made to the way the state funds education in Washington, also known as the “McCleary decision,” levy rates are capped at $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. A levy may not collect more than $2,500 per student maximum ($3,000 per student in Seattle only), a dollar threshold which is adjusted annually based on inflation. *NOTE: the levy lid only applies to enrichment levies, not capital or transportation levies.
Yes, but the amount that districts receive varies based on a number of factors.
For example:  Enrollment, regional cost of living differences, poverty rates, and the number of special needs or non-English speaking students are all factors in the amount of state funding a district receives. Most districts also receive additional federal funding, which is mostly determined by levels of poverty and special needs populations within a district.
Yes, but the funding does not cover the actual costs of operating a school district. The Washington State Supreme Court decision on the McCleary lawsuit resulted in public school districts seeing a net funding increase in 2018. Even though the state increased the amount of funding it was providing to school districts, it also capped the amount of funding school districts can raise from local levies. The Legislature also applied restrictions to how funding can be used. For local school districts, this means that levies have been significantly impacted, causing widespread confusion in communities across the state.
Both bonds and levies require voter approval, but in Washington bonds require a higher majority of voter approval than levies.
Bonds require a supermajority to pass (60%). 
Levies require a simple majority to pass (50% + 1).
Districts can have the same levy rate but raise very different amounts of money because the total property value within a district’s boundary varies greatly across the state. For example, a levy rate of $1.00 in a district with an average property value of $200,000 will generate $200 per household in levy funding.

On the other hand, a district with a $1.00 levy rate and an average property value of $700,000 will generate $700 per household for the same level of property tax.