The League of Women Voters recommends a Yes vote on both Seattle Schools Levies on the February 9, 2016 ballot.

“We acknowledge that the Seattle School District’s operations levy proposal is essential to maintain programs and services not fully funded by the State, especially in light of the significant enrollment increase in the past decade. However, we are extremely disappointed that the district has to raise over 25 percent of its costs to cover basic education due to the fact that the State has failed in its responsibility to fund that basic education, including, but not limited to, essential teachers, textbooks, and supplies,” said President Amanda Clark.
President Clark continued, “The League believes that special levies should be used only for special needs, such as enhancement beyond the level mandated by the Basic Education Act, or for capital improvements, such as new or renovated facilities. We oppose the use of levies for basic services, operation and maintenance.”

The League supports this levy only because it would be disastrous for the children of Seattle if 25 percent of basic school funding was cut. The League membership is hopeful that when the Legislature buckles down and implements the full basic funding mandated by the McCleary case and the Washington State Constitution, that voters will no longer be asked to vote on levies funding basic school operations.

Furthermore, language of the ballot title itself is troublesome. The League of Women Voters advocates for clear, specific and truthful ballot language at all times. Calling levies “renewals” of an existing levy when they increase the amount of money and the annual cost to the taxpayers should be discouraged. The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

“The League of Women Voters supports the use of special levies for capital improvements and for enhanced academic and other programs. This levy will provide for much needed extra classroom seats, seismic upgrades, and additional technology and lab space, among other enhancements, for a growing school district,” said President Amanda Clark.

The League also supports early citizen and building staff involvement in the budget-making process. We encourage the School Board to have available complete budgets in the school, the district office, and public libraries.