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Here’s what’s on the ballot for Whatcom County’s special election on Feb. 13

School levies, bonds, park and fire district funding up to voters

A bond to rebuild Lynden High School
A bond to rebuild Lynden High School, add permanent classrooms and expand shared space at Isom Elementary and Bernice Vossbeck Elementary, and install cooling and air circulation units at Fisher Elementary and Lynden Middle School could be on the ballot in February. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)
By Charlotte Alden General Assignment/Enterprise Reporter

Whatcom County’s next election cycle starts with a special election on Feb. 13.

Most of the resolutions on the ballot are school funding-related: Bellingham, Meridian, Ferndale, Blaine, Lynden, Nooksack Valley and Mount Baker school districts will all be putting replacement levies up to public vote. Lynden and Blaine are also seeking bonds to rebuild and renovate needed facilities.

While the state provides funding to districts based on student enrollment and additional allocations depending on the district, that funding is rarely enough to fund operations entirely.

Local levies and bonds are property taxes earmarked for schools. Levies, used for learning support, allow for funding to supplement state funds while bonds provide districts with specific funding for major capital projects, like buildings.

Replacement levies or renewal levies aren’t votes for new taxes: they’re simply votes to replace or renew taxes that already exist in each district to fund schools. Each taxpayer will pay a rate based on their home’s assessed value at the time of a vote.

Here’s what could be on your ballot next week.

Bellingham School District 

Proposition No. 1 is a replacement levy for educational support and operations. The district said on its website that this will pay for teachers, counselors, nurses and other staff; it can help lower class sizes, fund basic operations and more. The levy rate will begin at $1.20 per $1,000 assessed property value in 2025 and rise to $1.22 in 2026, $1.25 in 2027 and $1.27 in 2028. The tax would provide the district with an estimated $160 million in total over four years.

Proposition No. 2 is a replacement levy for technology capital projects to provide for computer technology systems, infrastructure, staffing and training, licensing software, projects and infrastructure updates for school safety and other capital projects, according to the resolution. The levy rate will begin at $0.61 per $1,000 in assessed property value in 2025, and rise to $0.63 in 2026, $0.64 in 2027 and $0.65 in 2028. The tax would provide the district with an estimated $82 million over four years.

Meridian School District 

Proposition No. 1 is a replacement levy for educational programs and operations to fund educational programs and operations including teachers, staff, athletics, safety and more that is not funded or fully funded by the state. The levy rate will stay at $2.10 per $1,000 of assessed property value from 2025 until 2028, collecting an estimated $26 million over four years.


Proposition No. 2 is a replacement technology levy to fund computer technology systems, staffing and training and more. The levy rate will stay at $0.38 per $1,000 of assessed property value from 2025 until 2028, collecting an estimated $4.7 million over four years.

Ferndale School District 

Proposition No. 1 is a replacement levy for school programs and operations to pay for school staff, academic programs, technology and student services and opportunities, according to the Ferndale School District website. The levy rate will begin at $1.45 per $1,000 of assessed property value, and rise to $1.48 in 2026, $1.50 in 2027 and $1.52 in 2028. The tax would provide the district with an estimated $62 million over four years.

Blaine School District 

Proposition No. 1 is a replacement levy for educational programs and operations to fund programs and operations not funded by the state. The levy rate will begin at $0.98 per $1,000 of assessed property value, and rise to $1.00 in 2026, $1.03 in 2027 and $1.04 in 2028. The tax would provide the district with an estimated $32.1 million over four years.

Proposition No. 2 is a capital bond to update the Pipeline Fields, improve Point Roberts Elementary School, replace aging and outdated middle school spaces and update the performing arts center, develop preliminary designs for Birch Bay School, and update aging electrical and mechanical systems across the district, according to the district’s website. The proposed bond rate is around $0.76 per $1,000 of assessed property value through 2046, to raise $70 million.

Lynden School District 

Proposition No. 1 is a renewal levy for educational programs and operations to fund safe and secure learning environments, academic and instructional support and extracurricular programs, according to the district’s website. The levy rate will stay at $1.84 per $1,000 of assessed property value from 2025 until 2028, collecting an estimated $44.5 million over four years.

Proposition No. 2 is a bond to rebuild Lynden High School, add permanent classrooms and expand shared space at Isom Elementary and Bernice Vossbeck Elementary and install cooling and air circulation units at Fisher Elementary and Lynden Middle School, according to the district’s website. The proposed rate of $1.53 per $1,000 of assessed property value through 2038 will generate an estimated $157.5 million for the district.

Nooksack Valley School District 

Proposition No. 1 is a replacement levy to fund educational programs and operations to maintain current educational program funding levels and the district’s educational programs. The proposed rate of $1.69 per $1,000 of assessed value will begin in 2025, and will rise to $1.74 in 2026, $1.79 in 2027 and $1.82 in 2028. The district will collect an estimated $15 million over four years.

Mount Baker School District 

Proposition No. 1 is a replacement levy to fund educational programs and operations. According to the district’s website, this levy supports athletics, performing arts, student services, nursing and more. The proposed rate of $1.53 per $1,000 of assessed property value will begin in 2025, and will decrease to $1.46 in 2026, $1.31 in 2027 and $1.23 in 2028. The district will collect just over $21 million over four years.

Proposition No. 2 is a renewal capital projects levy for safety and security needs. According to the district’s website, the levy will fund school safety and security, facility needs, playground and fields and more. The levy will collect $2 million each year from 2025 to 2030. The levy rate will begin at $0.57 per $1,000 of assessed property value and decrease by a few cents each year.

Fire Protection District 8 

Proposition No. 1 is a four-year maintenance and operations tax levy. The district’s regular levy is no longer enough to provide fire and emergency services at existing levels, according to an explanatory statement.  The approximate levy rate will be $0.93 per $1,000 of assessed property value from 2025 to 2028. The district will collect an estimated $6.4 million over four years.

Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District No. 2 

Proposition No. 1 proposes a renewal of the current tax levy of 0.10 per $1,000 of assessed property value for the next six years. The funding would continue to provide for development of parks, fields, classes and trails, according to the district’s explanatory statement.

A previous version of this story misstated the intended uses of Mount Baker School District’s renewal capital projects levy. The story was updated to reflect this change at 10:19 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 3. Cascadia Daily News regrets this error.

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