Wallybits: Seattle Schools Edition

Last week, School Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson released a statement to all Seattle Public School families about the $36.6 million dollar budget shortfall for the 2011-12 school year.  As a consequence, the School Board is faced with making decisions about what to fund and what to cut.  Right now, there are two action items that require immediate public attention:  one is for Seattle Public School families and the other is for homeowners citywide.

Today, Seattle Public Schools released a survey for parents of incoming Kindergarten students, pertaining to tuition.  As it stands, the fee is $207 per month for full day Kindergarten.  SPS would like to raise the tuition to $310 per month, keeping the tuition waiver for those who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

If you have a future Kindergartner, SPS asks that you fill out the survey by Wednesday, February 16 at 3:00 p.m. They’ll still continue to accept survey responses through Friday, but the School Board meets on Wednesday night for a budget work session, and they’ll be using the responses that have been completed through the Wednesday deadline.  You can complete the survey by clicking here:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HYTDGHZ.

The second piece of news is from the Seattle City Council office:  On Thursday night, from 5:30-8:30, there will be a public hearing on the Proposed Families and Education Levy renewal, sponsored by Councilmember Tim Burgess.  The proposed ordinance would put a ballot measure before voters this coming November that would authorize the City to lift the limit on regular property taxes and levy additional taxes for up to seven years to provide funding for the Seattle School District, specifically, according to the ordinance:

…for the purpose of providing Seattle School District No. 1 public school students, Seattle children, and their families education-support services designed to improve academic achievement; authorizing creation of a new subfund; creating an oversight committee; and authorizing implementing agreements for this levy lid lift commonly known as the Families and Education Levy.

Estimated annual costs were broken out in a statement released by Councilmember Burgess:

The estimated annual cost to a homeowner of the new Levy will be $124.33 in 2012 (the first year), rising to $126.21 in 2018 (the last year). This estimate is based on an average residential assessed value of $462,045 in 2012 and of $567,971 in 2018. In any year, the monthly cost of the Levy to a homeowner will be a little more than $10 – about what we pay today for a movie ticket.

You can read the entire Council Bill (No. 117103) by clicking here.

Lastly, SPS Open Enrollment has been extended through April 15, so the new dates are March 15 – April 15.  Click here for more details.

  1. rachel said,

    Honestly, I’m really pissed off about this. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the day when my kids wouldn’t cost me money to send them to school. I can’t get a job and work if I’m picking my child up at 12 everyday. How are those of us who struggle ever supposed to save anything? I’ve been a stay at home mom instead of working because childcare costs more than what i would earn and I’m eager to get back out there and create something other than babies and dinner.

    I pay taxes and would pay more taxes instead of having to pay $310 a month for kindergarten. And, because we’re low-middle income we don’t qualify for subsidized education so either we pay or our child doesn’t go to full day and he suffers.

    Are we finally seeing the decline of the American public education system? With scholarship, my son can go to St. Benedict’s and get a better education (although Catholic :/) and I would pay almost the same for tuition.

    I am super frustrated. The people didn’t pass the public school bills that came through in November because they didn’t want to invest in our future but wonder why we’re falling behind the rest of the world in education.

    Tue, February 15 at 7:17 pm
  2. Fruitbat said,

    To clarify for those not in or entering the school system, schools are funded to provide half-day kindergarten for free, the charge is to extend to full day. Which almost every family wants to do, and the kindergarten teachers prefer.

    As for the levy–the school district needs to report on reforms that have taken place since their last audit. And this time, the district needs to give a *detailed* spending plan showing the levy money going directly to classrooms–teachers, books and, oh, hey, kindergarten.

    Wed, February 16 at 6:54 am
  3. Lisa said,

    Sorry, folks, but I didn’t choose to pay for your kids ad nauseam. I realize that I have to provide a huge chunk of my property taxes to pay for everyone else’s kids, but when does it stop? Every year, more bonds and levies are presented asking for yet more and more money and clueless people seem to keep voting them in. What the heck is happening with the money that’s already being sucked out of us in the name of education? Haven’t you gotten your new property tax bill yet? Even though we’re in a recession and the values of our homes have dropped, our taxes are up 8% and more, primarily due to the bonds and levies taking more money for schools. If you choose to have a child, you should be responsible for it and not expect everyone else to support it and its education/daycare. I’d love to see a bigger chunk of my taxes go to things I support like libraries or police and fire services, things that benefit the whole community, not just those who chose to procreate. Perhaps we could have a kid tax? You have to pay to use the city pools, so how about a daily charge for all those kids who attend city schools? All day kindergarten amounts to subsidized day care. If you need someone to watch your kids, you pay for it, please. I will absolutely vote “no” on this levy. Enough is enough.

    Wed, February 16 at 9:16 am
  4. Whadda said,

    Seattle Public Schools spends $19,051 per student, Bellevue Public Schools spends $19,273, and Mercer Public Schools spend $19,189. I don’t see a huge difference in those numbers but I do see a HUGE difference in the quality of the eduction. What will the money from this proposed levy go towards? Right now it doesn’t seem like SPS is using the money it has in an efficient manner compared to our two neighboring cities.

    And to tag onto what Lisa said – Rachel’s attitude that other people should help fund her kids education so that she can go back to work and ‘make something other than babies and dinner’ pissed me off. If you choose to have kids then you need to be able to provide for them and not expect the rest of humanity to do that for you. I’m all for paying my fair share but Rachel wants me to pay more so that her kid(s) can go to all-day kindergarten and she can go back to work? How about then you help pay for my infertility treatments cause last time I checked neither the gov’t, society, nor my own insurance company is helping out there. Oh wait, that’s right, it’s my decision to have children (or at least try!) and therefore it should be my own personal cost to bear.

    Wed, February 16 at 3:53 pm
  5. PlantLover said,

    I was raised by very self centered parents who would never want to fund some other kids’ education unless there was something in it for them. They have no altruistic attitudes. They would have willingly paid for private education for myself and my siblings, but they didn’t because the public schools in the community where I grew up were so good. Being the selfish people that they are, they voted “yes” on every single school levy (and they still do.) Why? Because they believe that better schools mean higher property values.

    Thu, February 17 at 6:11 am
  6. Lisa said,

    So, PlantLover, can you tell me why anyone in their right mind would want higher property values and higher property taxes unless they are planning to SELL their home? I just want to try and stay in my home and these bonds and levies are contributing to pricing me out of such a thing. I believe everyone has a right to contribute to whichever cause they choose and if you and your parents want to donate to Seattle schools, go for it! I choose not to anymore and will vote accordingly.

    Thu, February 17 at 7:41 am
  7. Kimberly C. said,

    Please remember that YOU adults who are now complaining about paying taxes for education were on the receiving end of that tax money as children. But back in the day when you were children, the tax money paid for basic classroom school supplies (which parents now pay for), full day kindergarten (which parents now pay for), school buses (which currently are being cut) and a whole host of other services provided by the schools (speech therapists, aides, field trips, gifted education, etc) which now are either being phased out or passed onto parents to pay for.

    I understand not wanting to pay for something that you are not using, but you did once USE school services and you didn’t pay for them. Now it’s your turn to help the next generation. If you need to think of it in terms of self-interest, then please do a little research about education and crime rates (more education equals less crime), and consider that children are future taxpayers who will pay for things like YOUR social security when you are old (even though they won’t be benefitting from it). We live in a society. We can do much more for the common good if we pool our resources and fund institutions that help us all.

    Thu, February 17 at 1:28 pm
  8. Whadda said,

    Actually, I grew up overseas so didn’t use the US school system at all. Can I then get a waiver?

    Honestly, I would be more than willing to pay more taxes to help out the schools if I’m sure that the money will be used in a measurable way. I’m not a big believer though in throwing good money after bad and SPS should have to prove to all of us what they are going to change and how they are going to better the local public schools if we do pay more.

    Thu, February 17 at 3:44 pm
  9. Melissa Westbrook said,

    I hope to clarify a few things about the Families and Education levy in specific and school levies in general.

    I write for the education blog, Save Seattle Schools, and I recently wrote an article about the Families and Education Levy for Crosscut.

    Please understand – this is CITY education levy, not a school district levy. The City does a great job in oversight, transparency and accountability for these levy dollars (compared to, in my opinion, the district). These are programs that benefit low-income children from pre-school to high school. The City makes sure there are accountable outcomes from the programs and provides an annual report every year on the dollars spent and what the outcomes are.

    As I say in my article, I completely understand that the property tax burden is a lot. It is true that despite property values going down, the property bill is up. We are in a difficult economic time.

    So why support this levy? Because folks, we all pay taxes for things we don’t support. That’s part of being in a democracy. But, more to the point, we do it for the greater good. You may not have children and may never access the public education system BUT those kids need to grow up to be productive citizens to pay for your Social Security, Medicare, etc. Better to get them off to a good start then have them become slackers or worse, criminals. Better to have ever growing base of well-educated citizens. If only for your self-interest in the long term, vote for this levy.

    But beyond that, this levy is vital and will help kids in ways that will sustain their education in K-12 and beyond. We’re a great city and we need a great public education system.

    If you have any questions, please e-mail me at [email protected] or visit our blog at saveseattleschools.blogspot.com

    Sat, February 19 at 2:57 pm
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