Schools First, a non-profit volunteer-led organization that conducts Seattle’s public school levy campaigns, is seeking volunteers for phone banks at the organization’s headquarters. Yesterday evening, Chief Sealth High School students, parents and community members made calls at Beacon Hill’s El Centro de la Raza to remind voters to renew two upcoming school levies.
On February 12, Seattle voters will be asked to renew two property-tax levies that bridge state funding gaps and support facility improvements for Seattle Public Schools. Proposition 1, a $551.9 million Operations Levy, will provide funding for approximately 27 percent of Seattle Public School’s operating budget over the next three years. The school levy will help fund teachers’ salaries, textbooks, transportation, a sixth period for high school, and security and special-education programs, among other basic day-to-day costs not fully funded by the state. Proposition 2, the $694.9 million Capital Levy (BEX IV), will provide funding to maintain, improve and expand school buildings. Both propositions are renewals of existing levies. If approved, these levies would cost the owner of a $400,000 home $13 a month over what the homeowner pays on the expiring levies.
Blanca Olivera, a student at Chief Sealth High School, joined the volunteer callers at the event. “I think [the levies] are going to help us at the end of the road for everything we need,” she said. Olivera added that some of the challenges her school faces are large classroom sizes and outdated technology.
Phone bank opportunities for volunteers are Friday and Monday 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the McKinstry Innovation Center, 210 S. Hudson Street. Students who are interested in participating can receive community service hours.
It’s election day, which means it’s your last chance to get your ballots either mailed in or dropped off for this election. There is only one neighborhood drop box in Seattle this time, and it’s downtown at the King County Administration Building, 500 4th Avenue (just east of Pioneer Square Station). You can drop your ballot off at the drop box until 8:00 pm, and no stamp is needed.
If you prefer to mail yours in, you can mail it anywhere — as long as you mail it early enough to be postmarked today. Don’t forget to sign the envelope on the signature line!
School levy ballots should be reaching mailboxes throughout the city this week for an election officially ending on Tuesday, February 9. Two levies are on the ballot this time, a capital levy (Proposition 1) to replace the expiring Buildings, Technology and Academics levy approved by voters in 2004, and an operations levy (Proposition 2) which replaces the expiring three-year levy that voters approved in 2007 and have supported every three years since 1976.
Among other things, the capital levy includes funds for ADA/life safety systems installment at Mercer Middle School, along with renovations districtwide. Beacon Hill schools would also see funds for academic improvement, including Early Learning classrooms at Kimball and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) option program at Cleveland, and funds for improving athletic fields and making their lighting more energy-efficient.
Rainier Valley Cooperative Preschool is also holding an open house on Thursday, January 28 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at the preschool’s home, Beacon Lutheran Church, 1720 South Forest Street (across Beacon from the library). They say, “Come meet our families and learn about our preschool: We encourage the whole family to come to the open house and check out the space and meet the teachers and community.” For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-723-3115.