Tukwila School District learning levy on special election ballot

The Tukwila School District wants residents to vote “yes” to a levy used for instructional technology and school improvements in the Feb. 14 election.

Foster math teacher Austin Biel helps Sadiya Abdi with a math problem.

The Tukwila School District wants residents to vote “yes” to a levy used for instructional technology and school improvements in the Feb. 14 election.

“The School Programs and Operations Levy is a renewal of the local dollars that cover the gap between state funding and the cost of a quality educational program,” said Ed Hougardy, campaign chair for the Tukwila Schools Advisory Committee. “School levies are critical for student learning and often called learning levies.”

The levy is a replacement levy, not a new tax. Homeowners are currently paying taxes for the school levy approved in 2008, which expired at the end of 2011.

“To me, investing in our local schools means acknowledging that children are our No. 1 priority and need the best we can offer,” Hougardy said. “Like most investments, the real payoff will be in the future, when our students can use their education to get a job, make decisions, vote, pay taxes and contribute to and experience the quality of life in their community.”

The levy is 44 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value for six years. It provides approximately 27 percent of Tukwila School District funding, which is used to maintain and operate current school programs.

“Commercial property owners in Tukwila pay a significant amount of the total levy assessed,” Hougardy said. “That means Tukwila homeowners pay a lower percentage of the total levy cost than those who live in jurisdictions who have also have levies, but less commercial property. Good schools enhance the value of homes and neighborhoods.”

If the levy doesn’t pass, partially and fully funded programs will be eliminated or significantly reduced.

“If the levy fails, programs will have to be severely reduced or eliminated, such as art, music and foreign language, as well as school athletics and other extra-curricular activities,” Hougardy said.

Finances currently go toward ensuring teachers maintain lower class size, administrators, office professionals and technical support staff, bus transportation costs for existing routes, school athletics and extra-curricular activities, special education programs, ELL (English Language Learners), elementary gifted programs middle and high school security services and safety personnel, arts, music, foreign language and elementary physical education, textbooks, classroom instructional supplies, computers and software, school nurses, social workers and classroom instructional assistants.

The levy would authorize the district to acquire and install instructional technology equipment, infrastructure and systems to improve student learning; make health, safety and energy efficiency improvements to existing school facilities and levy excess taxes, on all taxable property within the district.

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