Seattle King County Realtors support two Bellevue school levies
December 17, 2009 · 3:09 PM
The Seattle King County REALTORS (SKCR) endorsed two levies proposed for the Bellevue School District. The measures will be on the Feb. 9, 2010 ballot.
SKCR president Keith Nelson said the endorsement was by unanimous vote of the Association’s Governmental & Public Affairs Committee, which considered several factors in its deliberations.
The funding requests include an Education Programs and Operations Levy, plus a Technology/Capital Projects Levy. Both measures replace expiring levies for the district. The district serves more than 17,000 students in Bellevue and the communities of Clyde Hill, Medina, Hunts Point, Yarrow Point and Beaux Arts plus portions of Renton, Issaquah, Redmond and unincorporated King County.
Nelson said SKCR members are also being asked to volunteer for phone banks, preparing mailings, placing signs and other hands-on assistance to get out the vote and promote passage.
“Good schools are the first thing homebuyers ask us about,” said Nelson, father of three, including a current student in the district and two children who graduated from Bellevue public schools. In emphasizing the importance of high quality schools, he noted good schools preserve and enhance the value of family homes, and “they’re crucial to the futures of the students in the Bellevue School District.”
Realtor Van Anderson, the mother of four Bellevue district graduates and widow of a Bellevue schools principal, echoed Nelson’s comments. Reflecting on her 46 years as a real estate professional, she recalls eras when “you couldn’t give away a house” after a series of levy failures led to declining prices. “From a selfish point of view, when you don’t value your schools, you don’t have value in your properties,” she remarked.
Nelson, in a letter to Dr. Amalia Cudeiro, superintendent of the Bellevue School District, praised both the district’s overall academic performance and its community outreach initiatives. Among its academic achievements, three of the district’s high schools – International School, Newport and Bellevue – ranked among the top 100 on the US News and World Report annual list of best high schools in America. A fourth school, Interlake High School, was in the runner-up tier.
Nelson also applauded the district for receiving a Civic Star Award, presented annually to one school district in each state by The American Association of School Administrators. The award recognizes partnerships between districts and their communities that use innovation to boost achievement and provide service to the community. Bellevue was selected for its collaborative efforts to increase student achievement in mathematics and science.
Other factors Nelson cited that influenced the endorsement included:
Bellevue School District high schools continue to hold top spots according to rankings by various news publications. Since 2003 all five of Bellevue’s mainstream public high schools have consistently placed among the top two percent in the nation.
Newport High School in Bellevue was selected by Successful Practices Network as one of three schools in the country to participate in a research study that will seek in-depth understanding of the critical factors that produced the school’s excellent results.
In 2009, Newsweek ranked American public schools by the percentage of their graduating seniors who take Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge classes and the accompanying tests. Five Bellevue schools made the magazine’s list for the fifth consecutive year. For the first time, those schools were in the top 100 schools nationwide.
In 2005, Standard & Poor’s School Evaluation Services recognized the Bellevue School District as one of the 15 State of Washington school districts to be identified as an Academic Outperformer.
If renewed, the Education Programs and Operations Levy would raise nearly $192 million over four years and account for approximately 21 percent of Bellevue School District’s annual operating budget. In addition to providing more teachers than the state funds and keeping class sizes smaller, the levy would help fund textbooks, extracurricular activities, extra teachers to offer the seven period day in middle and high schools, gifted and special education programs, and general operating expenses such as utilities and fuel.
The Technology/Capital Projects Levy would fund periodic upgrades of computers and small building projects for the years 2011-2115. Through this levy, which also replaces an expiring levy, the district would continue curriculum development for the website. It would raise $74 million over five years.
Total tax rates for the two levies, combined with debt service, range from $2.62 per $1,000 in assessed valuation in 2011 to a high of $2.67 per $1,000 in 2014, according to district estimates.