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Friday, February 8, 2013

Vote Yes on Seattle School Levies

Posted by on Fri, Feb 8, 2013 at 11:45 AM

This guest post is by state senator Ed Murray.

You can’t have a great city without great schools. The effort to improve our schools begins with making sure they have the resources they need to provide a quality education for our children.

That is why I join the Stranger in endorsing Propositions 1 and 2, which renew two critically important Seattle school levies, on the February 12 special election ballot. I urge Stranger readers to stand up for Seattle’s kids by voting YES, and by making sure to send back your ballot by election day next Tuesday.

It is important to note that neither of these levies is a new tax. They both renew expiring levies, and the total additional cost of both levies for the owner of an average $400,000 home is only $13 a month. It is a reasonable price to pay for the substantial educational benefits these levies fund.

Proposition 1, the three-year operations levy, provides more than a quarter of the funding for Seattle schools. It pays for teachers, instructional assistants, textbooks, the sixth period in our high schools, bilingual and special education services, bus transportation and host of other essential components of our school’s operations. Without it, the quality of our public education system would be devastated. It must be renewed.

Proposition 2, the Building Excellence (BEX) capital levy, provides funding to repair, upgrade or expand existing schools, and to build new schools in growing neighborhoods. For instance, this levy will fund new construction, or major renovation, of more than a dozen schools across Seattle. It will pay for infrastructure improvements and major preventive maintenance at 20 schools. It will allow for much needed earthquake safety upgrades at 37 schools, and will provided the resources to wire every Seattle school with wifi access.

The need for these sorts of major capital investments in our schools is acute. Over one-third of Seattle public school buildings are over 50 years old, and the maintenance backlog is growing.

Meanwhile, enrollment in the Seattle public schools is rising rapidly. More than 1,400 additional students enrolled in the system this year alone, and total enrollment is projected to grow by 7,000 in upcoming years. That is a positive sign, but it also means we need to provide the necessary funds to meet the capacity gap this growth is creating. THE BEX levy helps to do that.

Opponents of the capital levy are trying to claim that it will somehow lead to the shuttering of neighborhood schools, or that the money will be wasted. Don’t believe them. The truth is that every project funded in the expiring BEX levy came in on time and on or under budget. And this levy is designed to expand capacity and will add new schools where they are needed.

In our 21st century economy, a quality education is essential to opening the door of opportunity to the middle class, and to those who aspire to join it. We must make sure we keep that door open for present and future generations of Seattle schoolchildren. Please make sure to fill out and return your ballot by next Tuesday, and please vote yes on Propositions 1 and 2.

(An op-ed opposing Proposition 2 can be found here — Eds.)


Comments (11) RSS

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Show me da money!
Posted by Silas T. Potter on February 8, 2013 at 11:54 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 2
I voted yes on both, but as a legislator I trust that you will make inroads in fulfilling the State's obligation to education in the first place. Property tax levies are meant for one-off circumstances, not as an endless revenue stream to fill the gaps in the budget.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on February 8, 2013 at 12:14 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 3
Oh I going to agree with Phoebe? Dear god!! Someone hacked her Slog account!!!!!
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on February 8, 2013 at 12:27 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
I voted yes on both, and so did my son.

But I agree that the state needs to fully fund K-12 and higher ed and kill the corporate and other tax exemptions if needed to fund them.

Posted by Will in Seattle on February 8, 2013 at 12:27 PM · Report this
How much money have crooked administrators stolen from SPS? So we should continue to give them more money? Can they stop hiring crooks and cronies first?
Posted by semi-crepuscular on February 8, 2013 at 1:09 PM · Report this
Christ wept--if we have to REPEATEDLY vote on education levies for PUBLIC EDUCATION, why don't we vote on every goddamn budget line item? If you keep giving me the option to not pay for your children's education, I will eventually take you up on the option.
Posted by tiktok on February 8, 2013 at 1:27 PM · Report this
@1, @5 Fraud in the SPS has been punished more than any major bank has been.

Don't be a dope. Love em or hate em, the schools are a tangible factor in what makes this a better place to live than many others. Just fucking pay for it like a grown up.

Don't like it? There are plenty of jerkwater towns with no future because families with kids won't live there you can move to cheap.
Posted by Westside forever on February 8, 2013 at 1:31 PM · Report this
@5 not as much as Oregon is trying to get back from charter school the tune of $20 million in taxpayer dollars. Makes the SPS stuff look like small potatoes.…

Seismic updates are hugely important in some of these older schools.
Posted by StuckInUtah on February 8, 2013 at 1:34 PM · Report this
The levies will pass because Seattle's voters are total suckers.
Posted by Unbrainwashed on February 8, 2013 at 1:49 PM · Report this
Hernandez 10
@2 That may be the best comment you have ever left on Slog. I am 100% in agreement with you.

Ed and the rest, time to get your shit together and find a way for our state to meet its obligations! For real this time! No more delays and no more excuses!

(In the mean time, I'm voting yes on both.)
Posted by Hernandez on February 8, 2013 at 2:51 PM · Report this
What @2 said, Ed. Stop fucking about and start funding K-12 education properly. It is ABSOLUTELY DISGRACEFUL that there are schools in Seattle that have undrinkable water in the water fountains, that have no heating controls and that have ceiling tiles that have fallen off and hurt kids. (Arbor Heights in West Seattle and Bagley in North Seattle are the two in question here, but there are others in shocking state, too).

Meanwhile...yes on both votes.
Posted by flibbertigibbet on February 8, 2013 at 10:56 PM · Report this

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