Based on preliminary results released by King County Elections on November 2, Seattle’s voters are showing strong support for the three-year, $48.2 million operations levy.
“I want to extend my sincere thanks to Seattle voters on behalf of our students, who will directly benefit from this levy,” said Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D. “We are especially grateful for this show of support during challenging economic times when many families are struggling to make ends meet. It is truly gratifying to know how much the community supports our schools.”
With 121,523 ballots counted, unofficial returns show the levy winning support from 64 percent of voters. “Our deep appreciation goes to Schools First and all of the volunteers – family members, PTSA groups, the Seattle Education Association and staff members -- who worked so hard to pass this levy on behalf of our students.”
The $48.2 million levy will reduce the impact of budget gaps and will also reduce the number and severity of cuts to instructional programs and services over the next several years. It will also provide $16.8 million to support the recently approved historic Seattle Education Association contract, including teacher collaboration time and career ladder stipends and a new teacher evaluation system, plus $5.9 million for new textbooks and classroom materials for elementary music, middle school language arts, and high school science and social studies.
The results today demonstrate the continued strong support by the community for Seattle’s students. This levy supplements the $442.7-million, three-year operations levy – approved by Seattle voters in February 2010 – that provided partial funding for many District programs, including full-day kindergarten, sixth period at high schools, special education and English Language Learners. Traditionally, the District could not approach voters again for an operational levy until February 2013, as the 2010 levy was approved at the maximum permitted amount. However, the Washington State Legislature – recognizing that school districts statewide are facing additional severe budget reductions due to decreased state funding – during its 2010 legislative session lifted the levy lid by 4 percent, allowing districts to seek additional funds from local voters. As a result, the Seattle School Board voted in July to place before voters a supplemental operations levy of $48.2 million.
State cuts to K-12 funding have been dramatic – about $32 million in reductions to SPS in the last two years – and the district anticipates a minimum $28 million budget shortfall (a combination of increased revenue and decreased costs) for 2011-12. Seattle Public Schools leaders will continue to collaborate with the state Legislature to find a solution that ensures long-term adequate funding for k-12 education.