Answers to Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Didn’t the community already approve a levy? Why are you asking for more money?

A: School funding can be confusing. A helpful thing to remember is that levies are for learning and bonds are for building. Levies support learning and the day-to-day operation of schools—think “L” for learning. Bonds provide for the construction and major maintenance of buildings—think “B” for building.

The last School Program & Operations (SP&O) Levy approved by Monroe voters was in 2018 and this four-year levy expires at the end of 2022. Monroe School District is asking voters to approve a renewal of this expiring levy to continue to support our growing number of students and current programs. It is not a new tax.

Monroe School District voters approved a Capital Projects Bond in 2015. That money was used to build the new Park Place Middle School, modernize Salem Woods Elementary School, modernize and expand Frank Wagner Elementary and Hidden River Middle School, and for infrastructure and safety and security improvements throughout the entire district. Funding received from voter-approved bonds can only be used for the projects approved by voters.

Q: Why haven’t you built a new school for Sky Valley Education Center?

A: Funding for construction projects, whether for modernization of an existing facility or constructions of a brand new facility, comes from voter-approved bonds or capital levies. 

Prior to placing the Capital Projects Bond on the ballot in 2015, a capital projects steering committee was established. The committee was primarily made up of parents, community members, and business leaders, with limited representation from staff. The committee’s charge was to develop a set of recommendations for district facility improvements to the school board. 

For 12 months leading up to providing the board with their recommendations, the committee worked to review enrollment projections, facility conditions, district program needs, and seek public input in the planning process. In their recommendation to the board, the committee provided input on the public’s willingness to support the recommended projects and solutions of the committee.

As part of the community input process, a listening tour that included 57 in-person events, provided the opportunity for over 500 individuals to share their perspectives. In addition, many more individuals shared their input online through a ThoughtExchange process. 

As a result of the community input process and research conducted by the Capital Facilities Steering Committee, the prioritized list of projects recommended to the school board to put on a bond measure were as follows:

  • Park Place Middle School modernization
  • Fund small capital and major maintenance needs at all sites
  • Consolidate and expand Frank Wagner Elementary
  • Expand Hidden River Middle School
  • Reduce use of portable classrooms district wide
  • All-weather ball fields at Monroe High School
  • Modernize Salem Woods Elementary

Construction of a new school for Sky Valley Education Center was not determined by the steering committee to be of the highest priority nor did it garner enough support through the community input process. In order to modernize the existing Sky Valley Education Center or to build a new facility, a capital projects bond would need to be passed by local voters.

Q: Didn’t the McCleary ruling fix the school funding problem in Washington?

A: While the state made an additional investment in basic education in 2017 as a result of the “McCleary Fix,” the model does not ensure consistent and equitable resources for ALL school districts and it significantly reduced the amount districts can collect through local levies and limits how they spend these local funds. 

The new funding structure does not account for this large loss of local money, some of which is used to help fund things like extra-curricular activities, special education, teacher compensation, and key support staff positions. The plan impacts districts differently, but most are experiencing declining revenues needed to cover increased operating and salary costs.

Even with recent Legislative changes to address problems with the “McCleary Fix,” state funding alone does not cover the actual costs of operating a school district and therefore, districts are being forced to dip deep into their reserves to continue funding programs and staff. This is why local levies are still necessary.

Q: If my property value increases, will the district get more money?

A: No, the district does not get more money if property values increase. The total levy dollar amount, that voters are asked to approve, is a fixed amount. Property taxes adjust based on the assessed value of a piece of property each year. If property values increase, the district still is only able to collect the voter approved maximum - no matter how much assessed values increase. As more people move into the Monroe School District boundaries, more property owners contribute to the total levy amount, which means that each property owner may pay less in taxes.



Q: Where can I see the line item budget?

A: The budget for the 2021-22 school year can be found on our website:

Q: Why are Monroe School District administrators overpaid?

A: Salaries plus department budgets for district administrators in Monroe (not including principals) made up 6% of our overall budget in the 2021-22. In comparison, the average cost of district administrator salaries plus department budgets for all school districts in Snohomish County was 7.38% of overall budgets, with the highest being 11.27% and the lowest being 5.75%.

With the goal of remaining competitive with surrounding districts and attracting and retaining highly qualified administrators, the school board has consistently made decisions regarding salaries to maintain Monroe’s positioning in the middle (not the highest salaries in the county and not the lowest).

Q: You said the SP&O levy funds counselors, nurses, athletics…why weren't those things cut since the levy failed in February?

A: With the failure of the SP&O Levy measure in February 2022 and a drop in enrollment by over 700 students, we had to budget for a $14 million reduction in revenue to begin the 2022-23 school year. The SP&O Levy provides funding for staff, programs & services, such as additional counselors, nurses, and athletics, that are not funded by the state. However, in preparing the budget for the 2022-23 school year, it was the goal of district administration and the school board to make reductions in expenditures that will have the least impact on our students. 

Reducing critical support staff at our schools and eliminating athletics and extracurricular activities would have a tremendous negative impact on our students. Therefore, we budgeted a reduction in expenditures by $7 million and are using $7 million from our fund balance (financial reserves) to temporarily continue funding the things that directly impact our students the most.

If the renewal of the SP&O levy is not approved by voters for a second time this November, we will need to cut expenditures by another $14 million next spring. It is at that time that the things mentioned above that directly impact students would likely be cut. Since we are using our fund balance to bridge the funding gap for this school year, we will no longer have those financial reserves to fund many critical staff, programs and activities.

Q: What happens if the levy doesn’t pass again this November?

A: If the renewal of the School Program & Operations Levy fails again in November, the district will have to make more significant cuts from its operational budget next spring. This will result in substantial personnel cuts and the need to drastically reduce or eliminate programs that support our students.

Due to the failure of the SP&O Levy in February 2022 and a drop in enrollment, we already had to reduce our operational budget by $14 million for the 2022-23 school year. If the levy fails again, we will need to reduce roughly $14 million MORE in the spring of 2023. There are many programs, activities and staff that are not funded by the state that will need to be cut as a result of a significant loss in local funding.

Q: Can’t you use the emergency ESSER funding to fill in what is not covered by the levy?

A: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding was provided by the federal government to address the impact that COVID has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the U.S. 

ESSER funding was one-time funding and cannot be used to sustain staffing, programs, etc. long term. Use of ESSER funding is limited to mitigating the impacts of COVID and learning loss. We have used ESSER funding to support learning loss, safety supplies, technology, HVAC, student well-being, and continued operations.



Q: Why did the district administration office move to a new building without the input of the community?

A: The former facility that housed the district administration office is a 100 year old schoolhouse in urgent need of significant repairs and modernization in order for it to be a safe, healthy, functional work environment for our staff. Necessary repairs include, but are not limited to: a complete upgrade of the electrical system, installation of a central heating/cooling and air ventilation system, removal of unsafe building materials, new plumbing system, a new roof and windows, and upgrades to the structural integrity of the building. Without these costly repairs, the facility is no longer safe for regular occupancy.

In addition to those repairs, the facility was not designed to meet the needs of the district administrative team; there were no meeting spaces large enough to hold the entire district office team, few meeting and conferencing spaces, departmental staff were not able to work in proximity to one another due to space limitations, and parking was inadequate for day to day needs. 

School board directors at the time believed the renovations needed to modernize and make the former district office building a healthy, functional work environment were so substantial that it was not cost effective to pursue. And even if it was, the building could not have been reconfigured to meet the administration team’s space needs because of structural limitations.

Many of the necessary updates and repairs were urgent in nature. District office staff were experiencing frequent power outages due to an inadequate electrical system. Temperature control was unstable as the boiler heating system was in need of frequent repair and there was no air conditioning system. The building lacked an air filtration and ventilation system, which was a significant concern during the COVID pandemic. And unsafe building materials needed abatement.

Funding for the purchase of new school district property, the construction of new facilities, or the modernization of existing facilities is typically secured through voter-approved bonds or capital levies. Planning to put a bond or capital levy on a ballot takes a significant amount of time and resources, and once on the ballot, bonds need a supermajority of 60% approval to pass. Because of the urgent nature of the needed repairs, previous board directors felt that ensuring a safe and healthy working environment for staff was a priority. 

Q: Why didn’t MSD move Sky Valley Education Center to the new district office building instead of district administration?

A: The current Sky Valley Education Center (SVEC) facility is roughly 90,000 square feet. The facility now occupied by the district administration team is just over 31,000 square feet and does not provide nearly the amount of space needed for SVEC to run as it is now. Additionally, there is no outdoor space for students, no gym, no classrooms, etc.

Q: Why didn’t the district move the administrative office to a building already owned by the district, such as Wagner Center on Main Street?

A: Monroe School District does not currently own any other facility that is large enough to house the entire district office with ample parking, including Wagner Center. In addition, Wagner Center was designed to serve as a school building which presents different needs than offices. Due to the age of the building, there are limited options to restructure the interior of the building, as was also the case with the previous administration building.

Q: Why are you continuing to lease the overpriced building that the district administration office is currently in?

A: Under the direction of previous school board directors, the former administration signed a 10 year lease agreement in 2020 for the rental of the facility that is now occupied by district administration staff. Current administration has been advised by legal counsel that the 10 year lease is a binding agreement.

The current facility housing the district office staff sat vacant for many years and was in a state of complete disrepair. The lease agreement included a complete renovation of the interior of the building with new electrical and plumbing and the construction of office & meeting spaces specifically designed for Monroe School District’s purposes. The monthly rental price includes the cost of these renovations. 

The current rental amount of $57,096 per month reflects a cost of $1.83 per square foot, which the former administration was assured was a very competitive rate for a commercial property designed for office use in Snohomish County.

Q: Why doesn't the district sell its vacant property to pay for the purchase of the district administration office?

A: At this time, vacant properties currently owned by the district are reserved for future growth. Monroe is a rapidly growing community and as our community continues to grow, property will become more and more difficult and more expensive to acquire, especially properties located in downtown Monroe. 



We are happy to answer them! Send us an email at