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City of Seattle

Proposition No. 1
Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise Levy

The City of Seattle’s Proposition 1 concerns renewing and enhancing services to achieve equity in educational outcomes.

This proposition would replace two expiring levies and initially fund expanded early learning and preschool, college and K-12 education support, K-12 student health, and job readiness opportunities, as provided in Ordinance 125604. Consistent with RCW 84.55, it would increase regular property taxes for seven years. The 2019 tax increase, up to $0.365/$1,000 of assessed value, would be used to compute limitations for subsequent levies, with 1% annual increases. Qualifying seniors and others would be exempt under RCW 84.36.381.

Should this levy be approved?

Yes

No


Seattle Proposition 1 proposes a property tax levy that would raise approximately $619,600,000 over a seven-year period (2019-2025) to fund education-support services designed to achieve equity in educational outcomes.  The 2019 tax increase would not exceed $0.365 per thousand dollars of assessed value.  An owner of a Seattle home with a median assessed value of $665,000 would pay $242 in taxes in 2019 to support the levy.

The taxes would fund high-quality early learning services that prepare children for success in kindergarten; physical and mental health services that support learning; college and job readiness experiences that promote high school graduation; and post-secondary opportunities that promote attainment of a certificate, credential, or degree.

Initially, these goals would be pursued through education-support services in four areas.  Preschool and early learning programs may include financial support for preschool and childcare tuition, support for quality teaching, and support for early learning infrastructure development.

K-12 school and community-based investments may include expanded learning opportunities, including year-round, out-of-school time activities; academic tutoring, mentoring, and case management; social, emotional, and behavioral skill building; culturally-responsive programming and family engagement activities; college and job readiness activities and college admissions process supports; job exploration experiences; and advising and guidance related to college and career.  K-12 school health programs may include comprehensive primary medical care, mental health care, care coordination, connection to community supports, outreach, and health education.

The Seattle Promise program may include academic preparation, post-secondary success coaches, readiness academies, the equivalent of two years of financial support for tuition, and non-tuition financial support.

Each year the City Council and Mayor would decide which programs to fund.  The programs would need to be consistent with an implementation and evaluation plan approved by ordinance.  There would be an oversight committee composed of the Mayor, a councilmember, the Superintendent of the Seattle School District, a member of the School Board, the Chancellor of Seattle Colleges, and twelve appointed members.  The oversight committee would make recommendations prior to any proposed funding decisions or program changes.

Proposition 1 would replace two expiring additional tax levies, the 2011 Families and Education Levy and the 2014 Preschool Levy.  In 1990, 1997, 2004, and 2011, Seattle voters approved “Families and Education Levy” property tax increases.  Funds from these levies supported programs for children and their families. The 2011 levy measure totaled $231,562,000 over seven years.  In 2014, voters approved an additional preschool levy totaling approximately $58 million over four years.  Proposition 1 would be the first levy to support post-high school education.

State law generally limits the increase in property taxes to 1% above the highest amount that the City could have received in the prior year.  Proposition 1 would allow the City to exceed this limit for taxes collected in 2019.  Taxes for the remaining six years of the levy would be based on the amount collected in 2019 but could not increase more than 1% per year without a further vote of the people. Qualifying seniors and others would be exempt under RCW 84.36.381.

The Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy: Helping Kids Succeed from Pre-School through College

Education opens the door to opportunity. But too many of Seattle’s kids, particularly lower income or from communities of color, are falling behind, not receiving the education they need to be successful. Seattle can and must do better for our kids. That’s why the new seven-year Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy takes a more comprehensive approach to addressing the opportunity gaps many of our kids face.

This levy replaces and enhances two expiring levies - the Preschool Levy, which funds high quality preschool for low-income families, and the Families and Education Levy, which provides K-12 support. It also launches the Seattle Promise scholarship program to make community college free for Seattle public high school grads.

A Quality Preschool Program that Delivers Results

Studies show that quality preschool helps children throughout their lives by shaping their ability to learn. By providing quality preschool to children of families who otherwise couldn’t afford it we give every child the chance to succeed. This measure means 2500 at-risk kids every year will have access to preschool to get the start they deserve.

Providing Kids Support They Need to Graduate High School

This levy funds proven strategies to help children in grades K-12, including after school activities that give extra help to children who need it, and it targets high risk kids to keep them from dropping out. It funds important counseling and social services in addition to critical academic support. In Seattle, fewer than 70 percent of low-income students, and even fewer students of color, graduate. We can do better.

Offering Every Child a Chance at Career Training

In the next five years, Washington will add nearly 750,000 jobs, most requiring some education or training after high school. Today, only 31 percent of Washington high school graduates go on to complete a degree or certificate. By offering high school graduates two free years of community college, we can do our part to help make Seattle a place where all students can compete for the best jobs.

This levy will help thousands of kids. Because this levy replaces and enhances two expiring levies, the additional cost to the median homeowner is only about $9 per month. Please VOTE YES for Families, Education, Preschool and Promise!

Too much money

The city’s financial ask of taxpayers with the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Plan (FEPP) levy is nearly triple the current levy it would replace. Why does the city need such a large amount of money for education when we have a school district that is doing this work already? The city is overstepping its jurisdiction.

Lack of public oversight

This city is embedding the city’s preschool program (SPP) funding into this levy, locking it in for seven years with no opportunity for public scrutiny. The SPP is costly and has not delivered what it has promised. There are concerns that the SPP has simply converted currently existing public school seats (Head Start, for example), not created new ones.

Student data privacy concerns

The amount of personal data culled from parents and children who enroll in the SPP is alarming. It is provided to third parties and students may be obligated to participate until they are 21. Their confidential information and discipline records are being tracked and shared.

Not allocated appropriately

How levy funding is distributed by the city has been dependent on high-stakes standardized test scores, jeopardizing the allocation of services to high-poverty schools the levy was created to support.

The small amount of funding allocated for family support workers in the levy is inadequate and concerning. We have thousands of homeless children in Seattle who attend our public schools for whom such support is critical.

With the existing levy, the city has inconsistently funded wrap-around services and sharply cut levy dollars from schools in the past.  Special education students have been overlooked.

Troubling private partnerships

There is language in the levy referring to “institutional partners,” sounding the alarm of corporate-driven agendas that work to privatize public education.

May fund charter schools

It is unclear if charter schools will receive levy funding. Charter schools are not accountable to the public or our publically elected school board. This is a potential conflict that needs clarification. 60% of Seattle voters rejected charter schools in 2012.

Competes with School District’s levies

The Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is the largest and most significant educational organization in the city. It will be coming to voters in February 2019 with two SPS levy renewals. It is simply critical that they pass. The FEPP is in direct competition with those levies, and puts them at risk, especially with voters already experiencing ‘levy fatigue.’

Endorsed by business, labor, and leading educators, the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise levy requires strong accountability measures, including an Oversight Committee that will review investments and results annually. The Seattle Preschool Program also uses external evaluators to assess program quality and areas for improvement yearly.

Because this levy combines and enhances two expiring levies, the additional cost for the typical homeowner is only about $9 a month. That is a modest price to pay for a significant expansion of high quality preschool for children of families who otherwise couldn’t afford it, important K-12 support, and ensuring Seattle public high school graduates have the opportunity to attend community college.

With a preschool through college focus, this levy funds important educational programs the Seattle Public Schools does not and helps address the opportunity gap for our at risk kids. Please vote YES on the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise levy!

Submitted by: Jenny Durkan, Brianna Jackson, Kris Perry, www.voteyesforseattlekids.com

 

From the Levy “Bill Summary” (underline mine):

“… Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Colleges will be required to establish current Partnership Agreements with the City prior to receiving any funds for services…Partnership Agreements will cover items including, but not limited to, data sharing… program evaluations and course corrections, standards for delivery of services, curriculum alignment, sharing of facilities, direct contracting, and other…methods for identifying…students and schools…as appropriate.”

“but not limited to” = And the barn door is…open!

“data sharing” = Sharing children’s private information

“program evaluations” = Testing, testing, testing

“course corrections” = Funding may be pulled without warning

“standards” = What standards, exactly?

“curriculum alignment” = The City’s curriculum- not Montessori, Reggio, Waldorf, play-based

“sharing of facilities” = Seattle schools currently face significant capacity challenges

“direct contracting” = ‘contractors’ may access personal student data and circumvent privacy laws

“other…methods” = The barn door is now off the hinges

Submitted by: Anastasia Samuelsen, considerbothsidescarefully@gmail.com

Simple majority (RCW 84.55.050)

Polly Grow, Seattle Ethics and Elections, 206-615-1248, polly.grow@seattle.gov

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