This is the time of year when questions arise concerning levies and bonds for schools. What is the difference between bonds and levies? How long do they last? Why do schools need levies or bonds?
Schools are funded through several different sources. The general operating budget is determined by the state for each school based on the number of schools in the district and the number of students. Once those numbers are determined, the state determines a minimum budget for the district and a maximum budget. A budget that is above the minimum budget needs to be approved by the local voters until the maximum budget is reached. The minimum budget is funded by the state as well as a state mandated tax within the district. Anything above that is paid for when voters approve a levy. When a levy is applied to the general fund, it is considered a permanent levy and the district does not have to ask for that amount again.
There are other parts of a schools operating budget that can also ask for levies. Those levies are not considered to be permanent. Permissive levies for tuition, transportation, bus depreciation, retirement, adult education, and a few others are determined each year by the school board. Technology levies and building reserve levies can be voted for based on multiple years. For instance our technology levy was voted on as a 10 year levy.
When schools ask for bonds to build new facilities or improvements to the school property, the voters would approve a levy to pay back those bonds. That is for a determined number of years. Generally a new facility would see a 20-25 year pay back period.
Any time that a district asks voters to approve a levy or bond, the reasons need to be stated as to what the money would be used for. For example, if a levy is run for technology, that is the only budget it can be used for. It can't be transferred to the Adult Education budget.