Election 2013: Seattle Public Schools levies both passing

February 12, 2013 at 8:29 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 55 Comments

8:29 PM: Tonight’s first and only vote count is in for the two Seattle Public Schools levies on today’s special-election ballot, and both are passing handily. checkbox.jpg- #1 is for operations funding, and #2 is the BEX levy for projects including building large all-new elementary schools on the current Genesee Hill and Arbor Heights sites, as well as reopening Fairmount Park, and other projects citywide. From the King County Elections website, here are the percentages and totals (each needs only a simple majority to pass):

OPERATIONS LEVY:
Yes 74 percent (80,112)
No 26 percent (27,990)

BUILDING EXCELLENCE LEVY
Yes 72 percent (77,222)
No 28 percent (30,659)

The next vote count is expected tomorrow afternoon.

ADDED 11:52 PM: “Wonderful results” is how Superintendent José Banda described the vote, according to Seattle Times (WSB partner) coverage.

55 Comments

  1. FOOLS

    Comment by WSDAD — 8:36 pm February 12, 2013 #

  2. More of our tax dollars will be wasted.

    Shameful.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 8:51 pm February 12, 2013 #

  3. As a parent of young kids I am so relieved to see this passing. Now we need to hold the district accountable and make sure they follow through.

    Comment by Kayo — 8:58 pm February 12, 2013 #

  4. We spend more money per student than many wealthy countries, such as Japan and even Finland. Are we actually seeing a return on our money?

    Comment by G — 9:00 pm February 12, 2013 #

  5. Did I just hear the toilet flush, The fools in Seattle can’t say no.

    Comment by TaxBicycles — 9:06 pm February 12, 2013 #

  6. YAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!!! The massive overcrowding and the incredibly neglected buildings have to go. This is terrific fantabulous news! Thanks to everyone for their hard work getting this passed!

    Comment by Que — 9:28 pm February 12, 2013 #

  7. No no no! This makes me so mad!! SPS are horrible. They should not be given anymore money.

    Comment by B — 9:30 pm February 12, 2013 #

  8. Kayo- if you have an idea of how to hold them accountable- please speak up- year after year we ask for & expect accountability- that never happens- why should it as we continue to give them everything they ask for anyway? Fool me once – shame on you- fool me time after time after time—–well you know the rest.

    Comment by Anne — 9:50 pm February 12, 2013 #

  9. Awesome Waste of Money so when will the next The financial scandal Happen? oh yes Just remember…it’s for the kids

    Let us know what you think.

    Email us at NICKESPARZA@seattleschooldistrictexposed.com

    Comment by Nick Esparza — 10:10 pm February 12, 2013 #

  10. i think it is a crime that we have to vote on these levies to fund the building and the operation of our schools. fund the schools and send all 4 year old’s to school and we will have a much smarter population down the line.

    Comment by beef — 10:13 pm February 12, 2013 #

  11. A yes Vote is a open invitation for the next The financial scandal

    Comment by Nick Esparza — 10:46 pm February 12, 2013 #

  12. Sadly, I could not bring myself to vote this time. The kids obviously need the money, but the school system itself seems to be so broken. I don’t trust SPS.

    Comment by evergreen — 10:50 pm February 12, 2013 #

  13. We have passed three previous capital levies going back to 1995. You would think there wouldn’t be a need for portables, or that we would not have schools with asbestos, water damage and other problems. Fifty years is not that old for buildings that have been properly maintained, but some have seen little or no maintenance for years.

    Comment by Seattle School District Exposed — 10:51 pm February 12, 2013 #

  14. “SPS are horrible. They should not be given anymore money.”

    The schools are horrible yet you oppose operational levy and building improvements? Apparently logic isn’t your strong suit.

    Comment by John — 10:57 pm February 12, 2013 #

  15. There goes neiborhood schools, hello long metro bus rides.
    Waste of money with no accountablity.
    Grand theft of taxpayer.

    Comment by save schools — 11:04 pm February 12, 2013 #

  16. The children can’t vote. Thank you all keeping their interests at heart when voting for schools. Find another way to communicate your displeasure with the District.

    Comment by J — 11:19 pm February 12, 2013 #

  17. Bummer.

    Comment by Krystal — 11:21 pm February 12, 2013 #

  18. Now if we only actually had a say in what they do with that money.

    Comment by cj — 5:04 am February 13, 2013 #

  19. Just shows the anti-tax crowd is actually a pretty small crowd.

    Comment by Citizen Sane — 5:57 am February 13, 2013 #

  20. This is not the anti-tax crowd this is the accountability- crowd
    We have passed three previous capital levies going back to 1995. You would think there wouldn’t be a need for portables, or that we would not have schools with asbestos, water damage and other problems. Fifty years is not that old for buildings that have been properly maintained, but some have seen little or no maintenance for year
    NICKESPARZA@seattleschooldistrictexposed.com

    Comment by Seattle School District Exposed\ — 6:23 am February 13, 2013 #

  21. J– find another way to voice your “displeasure” — displeasure ?????
    Hardly the proper word — what other way– do YOU suggest? Asking- pleading- electing new school board members– those things haven’t worked – yet we continue to give.

    Comment by Anne — 6:27 am February 13, 2013 #

  22. SEA, WEA,NEA ……….. It’s for the children. Yeah, sure, you bet your wallet it is. Wake up Seattle. The public schools have turned into one big make work program for the benefit of the unions and the politicians. Test, test, test, send the children home early so the unions can conduct another WORKSHOP for the benefit of the giant industry that has evolved around the public schools.

    Comment by phil dirt — 6:28 am February 13, 2013 #

  23. Anti-tax people: what do you think the school district operates on? Money from the federal gov’t? State? Ha! Wake up!
    SPS is asking for this money because without it, our schools will crumble and kids will be learning in overcrowded rooms. Population has increased. Schools are falling apart. Previous levies HAVE paid for new buildings and updates but the money only goes so far. the attitude that SPS is the only one asking fir the levies is infantile – the chikdren are asking. We, the parents, are asking for this money.
    .
    Sure, there has been mismanagement of funds in the past, but that leader is gone, and we have a new leader to place hope in. Foolish? Well, call me an optimist, not a pessimist. I find it comical that some of you just want to give up on SPS. What will happen to all those students? Duh!!
    .
    The fact that brings it all home is that Seattle tax payers pay MUCH less toward school levies than other PS communities. If we don’t fund schools, how can our children be educated?

    Comment by Um.... — 6:46 am February 13, 2013 #

  24. Amen Um. This thread is so telling about the need for better funding of schools at the state level. Our state has been sued because the funding is so pathetic. We have by far the largest school system in the state. The most complex population of kids. An exploding population. The beast has been starved for years. Yes mismanagement has occurred, but that is only part of the problem. Now if the district acts stupidly and tries to build this downtown school I will be the first to march to HQ and protest and vote out any board member who approves spending money there. That is how I plan to protest. Not by starving the beast even more than it is already. That would hurt the kids and teachers of Seattle who deserve our support.

    Comment by kayo — 7:44 am February 13, 2013 #

  25. If you just hate paying taxes so much go live somewhere where they don’t have levies for schools fire and police. Go ahead pick your third world country and let us know how it works out for you. I used to think it was the liberals in the area that were at issue, but these pseudoconservative whiny “I don’t want to pay anything” folks are even further out on the ledge. The same people who scream when they feel their entitlements may be cut. This town needs meds.

    Comment by Reality — 8:09 am February 13, 2013 #

  26. Um says, “SPS is asking for this money because without it, our schools will crumble and kids will be learning in overcrowded rooms.”

    Guess what? There isn’t nearly as much learning going on as there should be, but better facilities isn’t going to fix the real problems. The public isn’t getting what it’s paying for. The teacher’s unions and the contractors are, however.

    Comment by phil dirt — 8:26 am February 13, 2013 #

  27. I was filling out my taxes the other night and in the deductions section of TurboTax there is a spot for educators who spend their own money for supplies. Sure they may get most of their money back via their taxes but the fact that this tax line item exists in the first place is evidence for how underfunded our education system is. I’m happy to see the levy is passing.

    Comment by Bob H — 8:47 am February 13, 2013 #

  28. Don’t hate paying taxes-hate that the money is continually being mismanaged.Also a tired argument-if you don’t like it-move somewhere else.The beauty of living here is that we do have a voice & a vote & we can & should hold SPS( & any other public entity )accountable-we give our tax money to them & trust-for our childrens sake that they will do right by them Do you think Arbor Heights Elementary School– for example — JUST overtnight became “a prison” as described in news accounts? SPS has a new leader-
    maybe things will be different-but we thought that with the previous leaders too.

    Comment by Anne — 8:48 am February 13, 2013 #

  29. Some of the school buildings are so crowded and broken down, that the buildings THEMSELVES are a distraction from the ability to have more learning going on in the classrooms. All these anti-tax, anti SPS comments make me want to hurl. The teachers in the schools do SO MUCH with SO LITTLE. The administration downtown can certainly be a different issue, but that HARDLY is a rationale for not ensuring that there are adequate facilities for people to be able to teach and learn within.

    Comment by Que — 8:56 am February 13, 2013 #

  30. As someone who works in construction of these schools, I’m relieved. Staving the beast is a recipe for third world conditions. If you really care, hold their feet to the fire, but don’t punish our children because of mistakes made in the past.

    Also, this fool who is saying that a school can easily be maintained for 50 years, yet isn’t willing to pay top dollar to build them in the first place? You, sir, have NO idea what it takes to build a 50 year school. I am a cost estimator and I know just how much one of those schools costs. Here’s a hint – you wouldn’t want to fund it in the first place.

    Comment by t4toby — 9:45 am February 13, 2013 #

  31. I’m disappointed in this result — who are/were the morons who couldn’t count all the preschool & daycare waiting lists that closed perfectly decent neighborhood schools? New preschools opening all the time, parks and playgroups bulging at the seams, pregnant bellies everywhere!!! These so called leaders are just NOT paying attention! And now we’re giving them more money to fill up all available playgrounds with portables (IMO, exercise, fresh air and recess are just as important as classroom hours) and we’re going to pay millions to re-open some of these schools.

    So disgusting and misguided…. in my 20+ years of voting I always voted for levies “for the children” but at what point do we hold these “leaders” accountable? Where does it end? I have a soon to be Kindergartener, Fall 2013 and it’s private school without question for us, no way are we playing these SPS games (and I’m an SPS alum).

    Comment by jissy — 9:48 am February 13, 2013 #

  32. How are these number representative of the city. This is a shame. Lets put up a vote for two things by it self outside of the major votes (Nov) of course they are going to pass. Had this been a vote in Nov there is no way this would have passed. This is a BS system and we need to take a stand on this.
    -
    OPERATIONS LEVY:
    Yes 74 percent (80,112)
    No 26 percent (27,990)
    -
    BUILDING EXCELLENCE LEVY
    Yes 72 percent (77,222)
    No 28 percent (30,659)

    Comment by S — 10:05 am February 13, 2013 #

  33. Exactly the point Que–who do you think spends the money– makes the decisions where it goes??? It ‘ Not a different issue– it IS the issue . The point being that for the last 10 years we have passed every levy put before us — yet the conditions at Arbor Heights for example have only deteriorated!!
    Yes our children should be able to learn in a safe environment conducive to learning– our terrific teachers should not have to do so much with so little as you put it. But when/ how will that change? I really do hope that this time — since it is the largest levy ( according to news )passed in last 10 years-will finally be the time we see some real change. Please- no hurling.

    Comment by Anne — 10:40 am February 13, 2013 #

  34. No levy funds = certain failure of SPS education
    .
    Levy fund = hope and progress (with uncertain risk)
    .
    Why is this so hard to grasp?

    Comment by AH parent — 11:06 am February 13, 2013 #

  35. If I recall, Seattle Schools wanted to close Arbor Heights because of the condition the school was in and the lack of availability of funds to bring it up to a satisfactory level, but the parents from that school rallied to keep it open. So now they’ve kept it open and it is sub-par? What did you expect? There was a reason it was one of the schools on the chopping block – it needs to be replaced, not left open to rot.

    Comment by t4toby — 11:15 am February 13, 2013 #

  36. WASTE OF MONEY. How is it that private schools can do a MUCH better job with half of per student cost than a public school???? Because the public school system has NO accountability for the money they spend. People get all warm and fuzzy when they say “its for the children” and would vote for any tax hike. I am not for funding the schools until the administration is held accountable for the waste. Wake up people.

    Comment by WSD — 11:16 am February 13, 2013 #

  37. No, they did not want to “close Arbor Heights because of the condition the school was in.” We covered the closure proposals and processes in the past several years exhaustively. The district at the time (under different management, many different school board members, etc.) were closing schools out of a mistaken belief that they didn’t need all the room they had. At one point they proposed closing Arbor Heights’”program” and moving Pathfinder to the AH building.
    .
    http://westseattleblog.com/2008/11/live-seattle-public-schools-closures-etc-announcements

    Comment by WSB — 11:28 am February 13, 2013 #

  38. WSD and others who think we are stupid for voting yes. Why do you think it’s right to take your frustration out on the kids? Yes they need to be held accountable and hopefully it will change soon but these schools need all the help they can get and not letting these levies pass is not going to fix that problem. I don’t even have kids but voted yes.

    Comment by stephanie — 11:48 am February 13, 2013 #

  39. A yes Vote on BOTH Levies is a open invitation for the next financial scandal
    http://youtu.be/0caUW1jkzTc

    Comment by Seattle School District Exposed — 12:24 pm February 13, 2013 #

  40. closing time for Arbor Heights

    Comment by Seattle School District Exposed — 12:28 pm February 13, 2013 #

  41. Not hard to grasp AH parent-is it hard to grasp that some of us expect proper management, transparency ?
    I am not in the camp that says– well we don’t have any choice- just keep giving & accepting mediocrity – mismanagement- scandal! This situation with SPS is NOT something new – with their track record my equation is
    Levy Funds= hope for progress– definite risk!

    Comment by Anne — 12:32 pm February 13, 2013 #

  42. Makes zero sense voters would pass these with the recent Supreme Court ruling that the state is failing to meet its constitutional duty to fully fund K-12 education. So thanks voters, for letting our State off the hook and placing the burden on property owners……once again :-(

    Comment by Lucy — 1:19 pm February 13, 2013 #

  43. I share many of the concerns of those opposed to the levy and bond issue. But, in the end, I voted yes. Why– because I know what it is like to attend a crowded, substandard, crumbling school, and I know what it is like to teach in a crowded, substandard, crumbling school. The students and teachers deserve facilities that help them do their jobs. Also, I don’t know if the law has change, but there was a time when school districts could only build schools for the current enrollment. They couldn’t build space for future growth. Hence, once a new school is built, if the district is growing it is soon over crowded and portables are brought in. Please let me know if this is incorrect.

    Comment by elma — 1:22 pm February 13, 2013 #

  44. Hurray! New Arbor Heights Elementary inbound!

    This is wonderful news, since the old one is an inch from imploding into a pile of mold and dust.

    Comment by Joe — 1:56 pm February 13, 2013 #

  45. “closing time for Arbor Heights
    Comment by Seattle School District Exposed ”
    .
    What exactly do you propose be done with the hundreds of kids in Arbor Heights if we DON’T tear down the existing decrepit falling down school and rebuild it? Yes, the kids will be shuttled over to Boren for 2-4 years. And then a new Arbor Heights opens.
    .
    If you were really serious about your work why not press for the City Council to enact independent oversight from some ombudsman type role for the Seattle Public Schools in accordance with accepted non-political best practices — best practices, as measured by academics and educators?
    .
    You then use best practices for facilities as defined by — wait for it! — experts in facilities management.
    .
    But all that costs money, and taxes, which is a separate matter. Thankfully, given how inept about 45% of our legislature is from east of the mountains, our state courts in another year or three are going to basically shove the legislature out of the way and hand state schools the money they are owed. That can’t happen soon enough.
    .
    Note: EVER voting on education dollars is stupid. This is direct democracy gone mad.
    .

    Comment by Joe — 2:06 pm February 13, 2013 #

  46. This is what kills me. A good number of you admit the the school administration does not use the tax dollars wisely and you are still willing to throw your and my money down a toilet because you do not want to hurt the children. Again I ask….How come the private schools can do so much MORE with half the cost per student than a public school can? BECAUSE THE HAVE TO KEEP TAB OF WHERE THE MONEY GOES. They do not have a endless supply of money with no accoutability. The logic you have is why the public schools are in such a sad state. My daughter will NEVER enter a public school as long as I can help it.

    Comment by WSDAD — 3:45 pm February 13, 2013 #

  47. Voted yes, but don’t ask for anything school related for the next 4-5 years, because my next vote would be no.

    Comment by Junctionite — 4:36 pm February 13, 2013 #

  48. I’m thrilled by the results! This vote signifies to me the heart of our community and our deep commitment to our youngest generation of residents.
    .
    Sure, we’ve got polarity in our community (not a bad thing) and the levy debates provided a forum to bring all viewpoints into the conversation. My hope moving forward is we bring the best of our differentiating opinions to the table in a respectful and thoughtful manner and align ourselves collectively on what we are for (not what we are against) to find common ground. By doing this we will be able to move forward and realize our collective vision for education in our community.

    Comment by Public School Advocate — 4:55 pm February 13, 2013 #

  49. Good times!

    Watching the anti-tax crowd trying to spin this election. GOOD TIMES!

    The neat thing is: the anti-tax crowd is out in force on commentary on news sites.

    In Seattle, most call them the 27 per cent.

    Cheap losers.

    Comment by Citizen Sane — 5:42 pm February 13, 2013 #

  50. WSDAD – Good for you that you can afford private school. I happen to believe that my public school kid is getting a great education even with the infrastructure problems and overcrowding. She has an amazing teacher and wonderful school community. I pinch myself everyday with how lucky we are to be at our school. If you want to see some horrible public schools, you should’ve seen the ones I grew up in. Yikes! I guarantee you that my child is getting a much better education than I did. I also find it highly ironic that someone who has vowed never to send his own kids to a Seattle Public School can cast judgments. Really, how do you know it is so awful? Trust me, it is not. The mold at AH and overcrowding ARE big problems and thanks to the people of Seattle these problems will now be addressed and hopefully we can move forward. As to the issues of cost comparison between public/private. Private schools can pick and choose their student population. Public schools do not have that luxury. They have to take everybody and that increases the costs a lot. You really can’t do a direct comparison when you factor that in along with other issues. It is much more complex than you describe.

    Comment by kayo — 5:54 pm February 13, 2013 #

  51. kayo:

    Look at the top post of this thread.

    Why do you even bother responding to someone like WSDAD?

    We are FOOLS. And, I have never even had kids…

    Still always vote for schools, though…

    Comment by Citizen Sane — 6:26 pm February 13, 2013 #

  52. All the anger. WOW. I claw and fight to send my daughter to private school. My wife does not work. She spends a enormous amout of time with my daughters school without pay. It is not that I can afford private school its is because I choose to send my daughter. I sacrifice somethings for the better long term outcome. What a shame…..

    Comment by WSDAD — 6:57 pm February 13, 2013 #

  53. t4toby,

    As I understand it the plan for the closure of the Arbor Heights school was only in name. They were originally going to move pathfinder there but the parents put up to much resistance. So they “closed” Cooper instead and put pathfinder there. Language is powerful; school closure has a completely different meaning from physical plant closure in their lexicon.

    Comment by Reality — 9:01 pm February 13, 2013 #

  54. Stop saying you can’t afford private school until you dig deep and cut out stuff in your life not needed or get a job if you don’t work. It is easier than you think. And many have scholarships also. We did it and now send two high school age kids to private school. I don’t go out for coffee or dinner as much as we used to and we don’t take lavish vacations. If you don’t have Middle or High school age students yet and you are happy with SPS for K-5 just wait it gets bad for 6-12 We loved out SPS K-5 also.

    Comment by Try it — 9:44 pm February 13, 2013 #

  55. That “starve the beast” argument can be, and is routinely made about any large entity, public or private. Think the private sector does any better? Read Dilbert’s Author’s personal story from his years with AT&T. I can share my own stories of monumental waste I witness daily in the private sector, too. Starving the beast is a philosophy of many. Fine. But HOPE is not a strategy, right? Isn’t that what conservatives mocked Obama for over the last few years? Show me where starving the beast works? The powerful always manage to keep their nests well-feathered in down-times, while kids, teachers and families shoulder the cuts. That’s how it plays out, always.

    Having gone deep into the district’s books and numbers over the past few years, I can attest that yes, there is a ton of waste in SPS, but the irony is, that it almost all occurs among the centralized, non-union staff members largely “hooking up” their friends, family members, construction industry pals, publishing companies, and old college roommates to the public dole, within JSCEE HQ downtown. It’s not the schools, or the individual communities they serve wasting money. It’s administration. It’s gotten a lot better under S.I. Banda, but it has a long way to go still. Cronyism and Nepotism is rampant in all areas of City and County Government, worse than in the schools. But it is getting better in SPS, I can attest. And with Schmitz, Lafayette, and AH literally in crisis, its time for this levy money.

    A little history: Beginning with former SI Goodloe-Johnson, under pressure from the State to reduce costs, SPS began to mimic the corporate model of highly paid, high-power executives cutting the “waste” from the schools underneath them. (No matter that those “savings” were offset with ridiculous expenses like massive amounts of unused technology and people to maintain it.) But step one was closing under-utilized schools. And what happened? Enrollment was booming at the time, the city’s birth-rate was exploding as millenials were opting to start families in the city, instead of on Snoqualmie Ridge and in Issaquah, kindergarten classes were being added at Lafayette, Schmitz Park and elsewhere, daycares were all full and expanding, the Y was adding soccer and baseball teams, etc., yet the geniuses downtown wouldn’t listen and closed schools. This wound up costing us tens of millions of dollars, because reopening a school after one year without occupancy requires it being brought up to the current building code. So, the geniuses downtown, trained by big-shot CEO’s from the private sector and former military leaders, through the Broad Institute and elsewhere, closed a bunch of schools to save money, only to be caught by “surprise” a year later, that they should not have done so, as they could no longer deny the obvious: that enrollment was about to explode, particularly in W.S. and Lake City/Wedgwood.

    So, yes, SPS wastes money, but it’s not in neighborhood schools funded by the levy. It’s in the ridiculously top-heavy administration, full of non-union staff, cooling their heels and making bad & costly decisions until they transfer to work for the City of Seattle or State of Washington when an old friend comes calling.

    We need transparency and vigilant community watchdogs to watch what happens downtown, and drag it, kicking and screaming into the daylight, because when we attempt to simply starve the beast, it never hits the pocketbooks or budgets of the people it should. How would it, without transparency? Instead, it deprives schools, teachers, and students. Transparency and oversight is the answer; not voting against levies, believing somehow, somewhere, it will change the behavior of the corrupt individuals in the system. It won’t. And it only hurts the kids.

    The Answer is not to scream, yell, and deprive. It is to do what people like me do all over the district. Go to school board meetings. Confront staff. Make public information requests and publish e-mails on websites so the public can see where the money goes. Don’t cave into peer pressure at your local school when you see or experience corruption. Follow up on it until something is done.

    Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Starving the beast never works. The cost of freedom is eternal vigilance.

    And btw, I’ve had my kids in both private and public schools, and they’re currently thriving in public school. We have great schools in W.S., public and private, and we are lucky to have the choices, costly or not, because they all well-serve the area we live in and love for our kids. West Seattle is about to build 2 new larger schools at AH and Schmitz Park at Genesee Hill, while retrofitting and reopening Fairmont Park. I don’t think I’ll ever hear the complaint, “there’s too many kids around here.” But if I do, it will be music to my ears.

    Nobody likes to pay more taxes. Me neither. But look at it this way: West Seattle is getting a big bite of this particular levy, this time around, and its about time more of our dollars come back home, isn’t it? There’s a silver lining to every black cloud, and this time it’s our turn. It could be a lot worse.

    Comment by pjmanley — 10:08 am February 14, 2013 #

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