by Stephan Blanford
Seattle’s school kids are facing a serious threat to their education and need your Yes vote on the school levy this November.
The State of Washington has cut over $32 million from Seattle’s public schools since 2008. As if that weren’t bad enough, the state is now facing a $4.5 billion shortfall. Olympia has signaled that even more cuts are on the way, and school districts are bracing for the worst. Our schools now face a $32.8 million budget shortfall for the 2011-12 school year with more to come.
To help make up for some of these cuts, state legislators changed the law so school districts could ask local voters for help during these difficult economic times. Our public schools are asking voters to approve a three-year, $48.2 million property tax measure this November that will make up for just some of the cuts our schools have suffered.
Voters should approve Proposition 1, the Seattle School Levy. The measure will provide roughly $6 million to purchase textbooks and basic classroom materials, $17 million to support teachers in the classroom, and over $25 million to reduce the number and severity of cuts to educational programs and services.
At 12 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, the owner of a $400,000 home would pay just $48 per year to support our kids. That’s a small price to pay over the next three years to support our kids in this time of crisis, when they need our help the most.
The community is solidly behind this levy. The Beacon Hill International School PTA board voted unanimously to support the levy. Mayor Mike McGinn, County Executive Dow Constantine, the 34th, 36th, 46th and 47th District Democrats, Seattle Metro and King County Democrats, the teachers’ and principals’ associations, business groups, PTAs, the Seattle City Council, community organizations, and many other individuals and groups have endorsed the measure. They give their support because they know schools need our help.
I am shocked that there are opponents to this levy who say that because “this levy is only 3% of the budget; it won’t hurt kids.” Don’t be misled. That 3% represents nearly $50 million that our schools desperately need.
Opponents also point to an audit of the school district and say that the district needs to fix their accounting first. Schools First, the standing citizens’ group that works to pass school levies, closely monitors the fiscal health of the district. They are confident that all the audit findings are being addressed.
Our kids need us to vote YES on Proposition 1, the Seattle School Levy. Seattle’s 47,000 public school students are counting on us. This year’s ballot is filled with many issues and candidates. I encourage everyone to turn the ballot over and vote for the School Levy first—even though it’s last on the ballot!
Stephan Blanford is the Legislative Chair of the Beacon Hill International School PTA.
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