Sultan School District requests $32 million in taxpayer money

SULTAN, Wash., February 6, 2022 – Sultan residents will vote on February 8 whether or not to renew two education levies, both of which are set to expire in 2022. The levies, which come out of local property taxes, will amount to roughly $32 million over the next four years on top of Sultan School District’s $35 million annual budget. 

But some residents wonder why the school district is reaching out to community members to cover costs, considering Sultan is already spending $15,503 per pupil, higher than many private schools in the state. The two levies will add a 25% increase to that spending. 

Sultan’s school board member Director Ed Husmann was the first to question the district’s spending, ultimately leading him to campaign against the two levy propositions. 

“Many people are in very hard, almost desperate, economic times,” Husmann explained in an open letter on his website. “For some, during the not finished yet pandemic, businesses and paychecks were lost while others, school employees, never missed a paycheck, some even enjoyed a pay raise.”

On its levy fact sheet, the district explains that its proposed Educational Programs and Operations (EPO) Levy will fund “vital programs, staffing and materials not funded by the State of Washington.” If renewed, the district’s Capital Projects Levy, which previously funded technology, will instead primarily fund safety, infrastructure, technology, and a new transportation facility, according to the district. 

The transportation facility, in particular, has been a constant issue for the district over the last few years. In a September letter to the district, the City of Sultan threatened to condemn the building if its structural integrity were not addressed. The building was not properly maintained over the last few years, despite the district receiving millions in maintenance and operation levies.

“Since I got on the board, I’ve been screaming about this unsafe building that we have and that we needed to fix it,” Husmann told the Lynnwood Times. “And of course, it all fell on deaf ears.”

Husmann proposed a number of significantly cheaper locations in 2019, one of which had a “ready-to-go” facility, which he claims would have only cost the district somewhere between $800,000 and $1 million. But according to Husmann, the board was not willing to put up the money at the time. 

Since then, the cost of the district’s new transportation project shot up to roughly $6 million, and the district’s bid fell $1.5 million short.

“It would have required taking out another loan,” said  Superintendent Dan Chaplik in the district’s levy overview video. “It would have given the school district $4.5 million in loans with no dedicated way to pay it back.”

Despite falling $1.5 million short to complete the project, the district is now asking for over $14 million from its taxpayers to start construction along with three roof restoration projects at Gold Bar Elementary, Sultan Elementary School, and Sultan Middle School. 

Husmann questions why the district did not use the funding from its maintenance and operations levies to maintain these facilities until now. In addition, Sultan has received millions of dollars from the Washington Department of Natural Resources through a Timber Excise Tax, the funds of which are designed specifically for capital projects. 

Why the district requires additional funding from taxpayers remains unclear, and why the district chose a levy to finance these construction projects is also unclear. However, bonds require a supermajority vote (a 60% plus one vote) while levies only require a simple majority (a 50% plus one vote). 

In a written statement, Debbie Copple and Rob Tutor explain that these levies are crucial for Sultan students. “We all benefit from a well-educated society,” they said. But while those in support of the levies and those against can agree that fully funding education is crucial, Husmann remains critical of the district’s leadership and spending practices. 

“Certainly this is a spending problem and not a funding problem,” Husmann said. 

Sultan residents can view the Snohomish County Official Local Voters’ Pamphlet for more information, as well as Husmann’s official ‘vote no’ campaign website and the district’s website fact sheet

Olivia Thiessen

Olivia graduated with her master’s in Curriculum and Instruction in English in 2020. While completing her degree, Olivia worked as a college grammar and composition teacher and wrote for various magazines and websites. She spent the last year writing secondary English and history textbooks but has recently shifted gears to focus on writing for the media. She believes journalism is the greatest tool within a free society and is passionate about bringing truth to local citizens.

Olivia Thiessen has 32 posts and counting. See all posts by Olivia Thiessen

6 thoughts on “Sultan School District requests $32 million in taxpayer money

  • February 8, 2022 at 10:54 PM
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    I am a teacher in this district. Every word Ed Hussman says in this article is a twisted half truth. I am appalled that he continues to preach such a lopsided and untrue narrative…and that the people of this school district allow him to do so. He has to be stopped. This is ugly and wrong—Ms Theissen, you should be ashamed for not checking your facts before publishing such garbage.

    Reply
    • March 31, 2022 at 10:26 AM
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      How much was your pay raise the last 3 – 4 years ? Betting it was at least 30 – 40 %. It’s you who should be ashamed for burdening families in the valley that were and are struggling through the pandemic and inflation.

      Reply
  • February 8, 2022 at 4:23 PM
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    Why wasnt i contacted before i was quoted? This article is factually incorrect and based on misleading statements from a school board director who is on the board solely to reduce is own taxes. I’ve never voted for a tax in my life. This is smart spend. Vote yes
    Rob Tutor

    Reply
    • March 31, 2022 at 10:28 AM
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      You’re full of it ! Why haven’t the buildings been maintained ?

      Reply
  • February 8, 2022 at 11:08 AM
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    I wish facts had been check, before this was published. everyone knows Ed puts his own spin on things and doesn’t show up for important school votes, so he can run negative ad campaigns, it’s been going on for years. i
    It’s a replacement levy.

    Reply
    • March 31, 2022 at 10:30 AM
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      Ha Ha ! If it’s a replacement, then why is it collecting so much more $ ?
      Where has the school district spent all the millions it has received in funding?

      Reply

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