Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Families and Education Levy Approved by Council to Go Before Voters

The Times has an article about the City Council approving the levy sent by the Mayor (after some massaging by them).  The City Council cut back on how much the pre-K program would get, favoring programming already at SPS elementary schools.

Seattle voters will decide later this year whether the city should collect more than $600 million in property taxes for education programs Mayor Jenny Durkan says would create an “opportunity pipeline” from preschool through K-12 to community college.

The seven-year measure, which the City Council voted unanimously Monday to send to the November ballot, would grow Seattle’s subsidized-preschool program by 1,000 seats, mostly maintain funding for K-12 programs and help make community college free for all students graduating from the city’s public high schools.

The Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy also would help open additional student-health centers in K-12 schools.
This levy rolls out at $637.8M.

What is troubling is the comments.  Now you can rarely read some of the comments at the Times with any real conviction but these seem more sad than strident.  And, there are very few in support of this levy.  One bright spot is that many people say that the district should be taking care of education (and maybe that will translate to votes for the SPS levies in Feb. 2019.

And, for me, until the wording is clarified that these K-12 levy dollars are just for Seattle Public Schools, I will not vote for it.  The levy is mum on who can actually access the dollars, leaving it open for charter schools to apply.  

Again, it would be very sad to lose the City levy.  It would be a disaster to lose the district levies, especially the one for facilities, BEX V.

Wow! A whole week before asking before asking for more taxes. How tone deaf do you have to be to roll out another, bigger tax on the citizens of this city. Our property taxes just significantly jumped to "pay" for education, but now the council wants to double or triple down. They just don't get it.

I do support free community college but not universal preschool. Community college tuition is much cheaper than universal preschool because we are working with an existing system.
I will however vote against this massive tax bill. They are tone deaf. Stop experimenting with our city I’ll you deal with the emergency on hand.

In nearly 50 years as a registered voter, I have never voted against an education levy. I firmly believe that this is how we level the playing field for all. Children should not be the ones to pay the price for their parents’ poor choices or inability to provide. However, because I have lost what shreds remained of a once hopeful belief that any of the current Councilmembers could be trusted to be wise stewards of our tax dollars, I will be voting no on this. 

This will probably be my first NO vote for education, pretty sure its a NO from me, for the first time in a decade.

NO! This isn’t an education levy. They can separate K-12 spending when this gets voted down. The rest is new programs and new taxes. Vote NO.


Anonymous said...

I am curious to see any polling on this measure, because I suspect Seattle has tax fatigue. This is how I see the repeal of the head tax. It wasn't just corporate lobbying against it. The polling on it was very bad, based on what I read in The Stranger recently, at least. My prediction is the measure will fail, and if so, it will be an unusual failure of an education measure in Seattle.


Art said...

Universal preK and better lives for families with young children (especially maternity leave) is how we're going to really close the gap, which is already there when students enter kindergarten. But I don't know if the city really cares about closing this gap if it's going to cost money. Are we that Scandinavian-style socialist?

Another Name said...

I would like to see polling information, too.

Gates poured $1M into the city's last prek campaign. I suspect Gates and others will provide a lot of funding for the city's Family and Education Levy campaign.

Wasn't Green Dot involved with planning the Family and Education Levy? Gates also bank rolled the charter school initiative.

Historian said...

The 1997 Family and Education Levy was $69M and the $2004 Family and Education Levy was $117M. Now, the city wants nearly $0.7 Billion dollars.

Anonymous said...

For the first time, I am voting no on this levy. Like the issue with the head tax, I have no faith that the city can impact outcomes in any meaningful way.

Another Name said...

IMO, the city has put Seattle Public School levy at risk. If a levy has to fail, I prefer the city's levy to fail.

Anonymous said...

The state legislature totally screwed us with their massive property tax increase, adopting the Republican plan for school funding. Now people feel squeezed and oppose new taxes for vital services, which is of course what Republican legislators and their corporate allies wanted, and they duped our Democratic legislators into going along.

Another Name has it correct: it is far more important for the SPS levies in February to succeed. Durkan's version of the Families and Education Levy should be rejected and sent back for fine-tuning, including clear prohibitions against any money going to charter schools. Durkan should also levy a $500 per FTE head tax on the city's largest companies and use that to reduce the amount of property tax in the revised Families and Education Levy she'll surely propose in 2019 or 2020.


Kate (Belltown) said...

Thank you, Zoologist. I still feel that many people here in Seattle don't fully grasp how bad the McCleary "fix" is, and that its intention was to punish Seattle and SPS (and other large districts). SPS is about to find out just how bad it is. Everyone needs to remember that this "fix" was created in secret and passed at the very end of the session in the dead of night. It's shocking. This isn't a fix, it's a political hit job.

Adding to the pain is that many of us are taxed out, even as a number of very large levies are headed our way.

alicia said...

I only want to add that (for the most part) I appreciate the thoughtful comments on this blog. I often learn something from them. While I rarely read comments on other publications I read (nytimes, seattletimes), when I do, I regret it. Thank you thoughtful writers.

I understand tax fatigue but I also calculate that because we do not have an income tax, I pay far fewer taxes than my out of state friends. I am not sure how I'll vote. I'll need to read more.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Just to note again, all of the increased property tax on Seattle homeowners does NOT go to SPS. Most of it will (I have never seen a real percentage but that's what I was told) but some of it goes to other places in the state that are not property rich.

I have a call into the City Council members to ask about whether they support using levy dollars for charter schools. So far Mosequeda's people seem to think it is only for for SPS K-12 but I see no language like that in the levy nor language barring its use for charter schools. So I see a loophole there that I believe will be exploited. Gonzalez does not support the use of public dollars for charter schools.

Anonymous said...

I know the importance of free preschool in helping to reduce early educational disparities, but the city's preschool program seems outrageously expensive and I'm inclined not to keep throwing money at it.


Another Name said...

The city will NEVER tell voters that they spent $81M to send 2000 prek students to school. The cost of a comprehensive high school that serves 2000 students has a budget of approximately $13M per year. The city MUST do a better job with taxpayer dollars. The cost of living in Seattle continues to rise. An additional $24o per year is not a small amount of cash.

Anonymous said...

FYI - Families and Education Levy funds have always been able to go to private providers, especially those that are providing health, mental health, out-of-school, and summer programs. The funds were never earmarked only for Seattle Public Schools. This latest levy, like the Seattle Preschool Program, will fund private preschool providers serving eligible Seattle preschoolers, not just attending programs housed in a Seattle public school building.

Are you opposed then to eligible preschoolers being able to served at private preschool providers?

If that's OK with you, how do you square your opposition to these funds going to support students at charter public schools in Seattle?


Robert Cruickshank said...

Charter schools undermine public schools, have been rejected by Seattle voters numerous times, and students from Rainier Beach HS have spoken out repeatedly against GreenDot and other charters that are trying to exploit the community for private profit. Charter schools want Levy money so they can try and get a foothold in our city, but because of the widespread community rejection (as well as the central role charters play in the defunding and resegregation of public education) they must be cut off from public funds.

Charter schools are private schools, no different from Lakeside School or Holy Names or whatever other private school you want to name. If charter schools want to operate in Seattle they can do so without public money, same as anyone else. It is unacceptable for the city to aid charter schools in any way.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Robert. I'll put you down as a "no." No, you don't support private preschool providers being able to serve preschoolers with the new levy funds. Check.

Word of advice --- maybe you should familiarize yourself with our state's charter public school laws before you post another rant like your one above.


NO 1240 said...

Well....one does not need to look past the cozy little relationship the city has with Green Dot and lack of transparency regarding a charter school that is being built in south Seattle. Some mysterious city department provided Green Dot variances and did so in a manner that is not consistent with Seattle's own laws. Funny things happen behind closed doors.

If the above story isn't enough, you may want to look at the cozy relationship charter schools had with a member of the charter commission and a small school district 50 miles north of Spokane that funneled public dollars to charter schools when the Supreme Court determined charter schools were unconstitutional.

There is a real lack of transparency and trust when it comes to charter schools.

Oh..and as an aside, Gates continues to reward the Mary Walker school district for their part in the charter school debacle.

NO 1240 said...

Charter schools and the people behind them don't think they are above the law.

As an aside, Running Start dollars get funneled through school districts that have real local and elected oversight. Very different than charter schools. Some want you to think that Running Start and charter schools are the same. They are not.

NO 1240 said...

Correction: Charter schools and the people behind them think they are above the law.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh Albert, what a way to twist the subject when you know I am not talking about CBOs but school districts (which each charter school is). And, if you read what I wrote, I said K-12.

No on 1240 is right; someone in the City has a cozy relationship with Green Dot and hence, my justified suspicion. Also, when you can't get electeds to go on record about something directly related to a levy they want you to vote for, be suspicious.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. As passed by the council, the proposed levy total is $637 million dollars --- $342 million of it will go to the Seattle Preschool Program. That's 54% of the total levy and a significant percentage (if not majority) of THAT will go to private providers.

How is that different than charter schools in your mind? You can obfuscate behind your "I said K-12" statement, but the argument is the same.

Are you opposed to private preschool providers getting levy funds? These private providers don't have elected boards and a good number of them are for-profit.


Another Name said...

I'm not a huge fan of public dollars going to private entities. For example, the Woodland Park Zoo receives public dollars and they are not subjected to Public Records Request.


Public dollars should equate to public oversight. There are other private entities that receive public dollars that I question, too.

Seattle Citizen said...

Albert, your rhetorical twists and turns in defense of charter schools are worthy of an Oscar or an Emmy or something! Wow!

"If A, then B AND C, ergo ipso facto...

Here's a gold star for you for word play and logical non sequiturs!

Schools and districts contract all the time with private entities. We have to. That certainly doesn't mean that we must contract with ALL private entities, or that contracting with private entities is ALWAYS a positive thing.

What charter company do you work for, Albert?

; )

Anonymous said...

Albert, SPS is a K-12 provider, so we don't need to support private entities like charter schools for K-12 services. For Pre-K services, however, we need to contract those out because we don't have the infrastructure and expertise to provide them at scale.


kellie said...

Albert may have intended to just intentionally stir the pot. However, I think he raises a good point.

The vast majority of this levy will be going to private providers. IMHO, I do think that is an important detail, when you are considering how PUBLIC dollars are managed and the oversight of those dollars.

The cost for the Seattle Preschool Program is RIDICULOUS and the oversight of those dollars is sorely lacking. Frankly, I would have much more confidence in those dollars being properly managed if 100% of the money was just passed over to SPS and SPS was converted to a Pre-K to 12 district.

SPS is well known for their substantial administrative overhead. But SPS also manages to deliver services every year. SPS manages to find classrooms, enroll students, hire teachers and all of those details critical to providing public education services at a tiny fraction of the SSP budget.

I will be voting NO on this levy. This will be the first time I vote no on an education levy.