(This guest Slog post is by Sharon Rodgers, president of SchoolsFirst. More info on the school levy in the voters' guide.)
I am appalled that there are individuals actively working to bring down Prop 1, the Seattle School Levy. I can only assume that they just don’t get how horrific state cuts to education have been and will continue to be.
The state has been under-funding education for years. Although the legislature passed a new law to better fund schools, there’s no money to see it through. So the cuts continue: $32 million from Seattle schools since 2008 with more on the way.
The result is that our Seattle schools are now facing a funding gap of $32.8 million for next year alone. The budget outlook is dire and this levy is our only way of making sure our schools get just some of the needed funds.
This levy will fund priority items, like buying new textbooks and supporting teachers. Funds will also lessen the impact of cuts to other educational programs. Unfortunately, further cuts will still have to be made—the budget gap is just too big—but the $48 million this levy provides will make a huge difference.
The community is behind this levy: Mayor Mike McGinn, County Executive Dow Constantine, the 34th, 36th, 46th & 47th District Dems, Metro and King County Dems, the teachers and principals associations, business groups, PTAs, the Seattle City Council, and many others. They support the levy because they know our schools need our help.
You’ll hear opponents say that because this levy is only three percent of the budget, so it doesn’t matter. Sorry, but this is just flat-out wrong. That three percent represents nearly $50 million for schools. Our schools have been taking cuts for years and now these cuts are hitting bone.
You’ll hear opponents talk about an audit of the school district. Believe me, we follow these issues closely. All the audit findings are being addressed. We’ve seen the progress being made and are convinced the district is on the right track.
You’ll hear that the district is building up central bureaucracy, but the numbers tell a different story. Eighty-five jobs have been cut from central administration. We see money going to support kids and teachers in the classroom
I’ve got two kids in public schools, and along with the 47,000 other students, they need us to support their teachers and provide them with books to make sure they’re learning. They can’t lose out just because we’re in the most miserable economic situation in decades and the state isn’t paying what it should for education.
Get your ballot out, flip it over, go right to the bottom and Vote for kids first. Vote "YES” on Seattle School District Prop 1.