ELECTION 2022: Ballots go out this week for Seattle Public Schools levies. Here’s what you’ll be voting on

checkbox.jpgThis week, King County Elections sends out ballots for February 8th “special elections,” and this year that includes two levy renewals for Seattle Public Schools.

Proposition 1: Educational Programs & Operations Levy Renewal
This is a three-year $646 million levy (down from $814 million in 2019). The district explains it as “funding for day-to-day operations, staffing positions, academic programs and student opportunities that are not fully funded by the state.” One example cited by SPS is that state funding covers nine school nurses for the entire district; levy funding is used to employ 59 more (still only 68 nurses for a 110+-school district). The levy is expected to cost up to 75 cents per $1,000 property valuation per year, down from the $1.05 rate voters approved three years ago. You can see the full text here; see the official pro/con statements and other background here.

Proposition 2: Buildings, Technology, and Academics/Athletics Levy Renewal
This is a six-year $783 million levy, up from $475 million for the one approved in 2015. The district explains that this three-part levy covers everything from major building-maintenance projects to “strategic investments in technology” to athletic-field improvements. This levy starts at 47 cents per $1,000 property valuation and goes down to an estimated 37 cents in the final year (the 2016 version was estimated at 43 cents per $1,000). See the full text of the levy here; yes/no statements and other background is here. West Seattle schools and SPS facilities with projects on the district’s list include:

Nino Cantu SW Athletic Complex – replace softball-field turf and lighting
Hiawatha/West Seattle HS – new batting cages, shared cost of turf replacement
Gatewood Elementary – windows and fire alarm
Highland Park Elementary – playground improvements
Lafayette Elementary – stormwater systems and asphalt maintenance
Boren STEM K-8 – electrical system improvements, intercom/clock system replacement
Pathfinder K-8 – fire-alarm panel replacement
Madison MS – exterior cladding/window improvements
Interagency/Roxhill – fire and burglary alarm improvements
Schmitz Park (interim site) – door, fire-safety improvements

Both levies require a simple-majority vote to pass. KC Elections plans to send ballots on Wednesday; dropboxes open Thursday; deadline to return your ballot (or get it postmarked) is Tuesday, February 8th.

43 Replies to "ELECTION 2022: Ballots go out this week for Seattle Public Schools levies. Here's what you'll be voting on"

  • Mark Schletty January 17, 2022 (2:01 pm)

    Proposition 2 is not really a renewal.  It is a  60% increase in tax dollars. To me that is a new levy at a much higher tax rate and should be  proposed as such. 

    • Mel January 17, 2022 (7:04 pm)

      Agreed. Everyone around here seems to be made of money so I’m sure they’ll pass.

    • nwpolitico January 17, 2022 (8:57 pm)

      Combined, both levies are a tax cut. 

  • John January 17, 2022 (5:09 pm)

    It’s a no vote for me! They need to cut the fat from other pet projects and use some of the money that they’re collecting to fund the schools. 60% of property taxes go to schools and King County alone collects nearly 2 billion dollars in property taxes yearly

    • zark00 January 18, 2022 (3:28 pm)

      57% goes to schools. King County collected $6.6B in property taxes in 2021. What’s your point?  You feel like the money isn’t being spent correctly, but don’t even have a basic grasp of the budget or amount. What fat exactly are you proposing they cut? The histrionics are not warranted. Your tax burden is low. Suck it up. You are what we call an ‘uninformed voter’. 

      • John January 18, 2022 (5:20 pm)

        Factoring in state/local/county it’s over 60% nice try

  • Jim January 17, 2022 (5:10 pm)

    If you don’t own property you shouldn’t be able to vote on a property tax increase or levy

    • Lagartija Nick January 18, 2022 (9:32 am)

      Heck, let’s just make it so only white male property owners get to vote. /s

    • Pessoa January 18, 2022 (9:50 am)

      Interesting.  In  one sense, democracies are no different than a back alley “shake-down” conducted and blessed through the auspices of a majority.  

    • BlairJ January 18, 2022 (11:50 am)

      Renters pay property taxes.  Their landlords do not pay taxes out of the goodness of their heart.

    • Smoosh January 20, 2022 (9:36 am)

      Seriously Jim?  Think about what you just said.  Like really think about it.  Do you also fly a flag on any of your property and if so which one?

  • yikes January 17, 2022 (8:25 pm)

    It’s crazy that it’s even an option for people to say “nah, schools don’t need maintenance or infrastructure upgrades.”  I’m voting yes because I’m not a sociopath.

    • Niko January 18, 2022 (5:42 am)

      How can you call someone a sociopath for participating in democracy?! 

    • Conjunction Junction January 18, 2022 (8:50 am)

      Best comment ever. 

    • Ms. Sparkles January 18, 2022 (12:55 pm)

      As an accountant, it bothers me that the SPS administrators don’t plan (account) for deferred maintenance; they’re supposed to.  Each budget season they should be setting aside a reserve for maintenance, not spending every cent they’re allotted. So it’s crazy that it’s even an option for SPS leadership to say “nah, we don’t need to do a basic part of our job to ensure we have funds for maintenance and infrastructure upgrades.” I’m voting no because I’m not a sycophant. 

      • zark00 January 18, 2022 (2:51 pm)

        you think our districts have a reserve, ever, ha! That’s some solid accounting work there champ.

      • Another Accountant January 18, 2022 (7:25 pm)

        Which expenses should the district create a fund for deferred maintenance? All of the available money is needed for current expenses and there’s still not enough for supplies, reasonable class sizes or nurses and counselors.

  • Mj January 17, 2022 (10:07 pm)

    Why always a Special Election, these elections are not cheap to run?  

  • AO January 18, 2022 (9:19 am)

    I was curious about that too but that link leads to a SPS link which is dead.

    • WSB January 18, 2022 (3:34 pm)

      No, if you’re referring to our reply, that link is to a WSB story (which I wrote) and the answer to the question is all in the text at the end of the story, no further link-pointing.

  • eric January 18, 2022 (10:03 am)

    here comes another rent increase.

  • Ballardian January 18, 2022 (12:20 pm)

    After many years of voting yes, I am voting no on Prop. 2.  The items listed shouldn’t cost that much plus – its been shown that construction costs are inflated 10.1% in Seattle over surrounding areas – this is due to collusion among contractors Seattle DJC.com local business news and data – Construction – Construction costs jump more in Seattle than other US cities.  Don’t stand for this – vote No.

    • zark00 January 18, 2022 (3:35 pm)

      @Balldarian – so because the cost of lumber has increased 188% in the past year, we should punish local school children?  Brilliant. You should run for office. No evidence on this collusion by contractors – just completely make that one up or what?

  • zark00 January 18, 2022 (2:44 pm)

    Anyone voting no on these levies is a complete moron, and arguably a terrible person. If you don’t understand how we fund schools around here, look it up, it’s your civic duty.Individual tax burden in WA is 9.8% – middle of the pack – lowest West Coast state – our taxes are comparatively low – people who complain about high taxes here have no clue what they’re talking about.  If you are a home owner, and complaining about this levy and your taxes, you’re a joke. 

  • zark00 January 18, 2022 (2:52 pm)

    voting no is a really bad decision and highlights that you don’t understand how our schools are funded. We don’t have high taxes in Washington.  Owning a  home and whining about these levies is pathetic. 

    • eric January 18, 2022 (8:05 pm)

      Zarkoo – Seattle has the highest sales tax in the nation.  Property taxes are crippling. Sure New Jersey and Chicago are higher, but Seattle is well on its way. My landlord says 1/3 or my rent is property taxes. I looked it up it’s true. This affects everybody, not just the suckers that own a home.

      • WSB January 18, 2022 (8:53 pm)

        Seattle’s sales tax as of mid-2021 was tied for #2, slightly behind Tacoma.

      • Smoosh January 20, 2022 (9:42 am)

        We don’t pay income tax here.   Comparing our sales tax and property tax rates to places with state income tax is like comparing apples to a bucket.

    • Auntie January 18, 2022 (9:45 pm)

      Owning a home and whining about these levies that comprise half of the tax burden is not unreasonable when I worked my whole life to own my home and property taxes have increased four-fold just in the last 20 years, whereas my income is now fixed and certainly not increasing at the rate of my taxes. Sure, my property is worth more, but I would like to be able to continue to live here – to enjoy what I worked for. Like so many others, I feel like I am being taxed out of Seattle. Perhaps that is not a problem for you.

      • WS Res January 19, 2022 (12:09 am)

        Congratulations, you own a valuable asset in a community that benefits from the many good results of quality public schooling!  Feel free to leverage all those unearned equity gains you’ve made if you need to make up a gap in income now that you’re enjoying retirement, during which you’re presumably now relying on receiving services from an educated populace. Since your predecessors provided the same for you, you should have no trouble doing the same for future generations.

      • yikes January 19, 2022 (7:54 am)

        Great news, Auntie!  These levies are a net reduction in taxes from the current levies, so you can vote in favor of the current generation receiving the same benefits you enjoyed while you were in school without an actual increase to your tax bill.  In the future it’s helpful to read the text of the levies.

      • Smoosh January 20, 2022 (9:47 am)

        Hey Auntie here is a nice play. You worked somewhere and paid no income tax.  Your property taxes went up not because of the rate but because you live in a increasingly valuable place so you have generated great wealth on your asset.  If you can’t afford the sales and property taxes now that you don’t have much of a taxable income then sell your very high value property and move to someplace that has a high income tax and low property and sales tax.  Then someone who wants to support education and public safety can move in and help the rest of us out.  You’re welcome. 

        • Pessoa January 21, 2022 (2:16 pm)

          Of course, you could also just make an argument and leave it at that, without the snotty snark.  Great swaths of the rest of the country are able to do that – you know, those people – but apparently not here. 

  • Smoosh January 20, 2022 (9:33 am)

    The same folks that vote no on school levies are the same ones on here bemoaning crime and the uncomfortable to observe effects of poverty.They all say: lock em up!  Then complain about a tax burden.Must be nice to be so disconnected from other people’s experience you think everyone else needs to take care of our problems. Shame on you and your property investments and bloated 401ks.  

    • WS Res January 21, 2022 (12:06 pm)

      Everybody wants good roads, safe neighborhoods, quality schools, clean air/food/water, lots of city and county and state and federal services, etc.  The problem is that most folks don’t want to pay for it, thanks to Reagan and Norquist etc. convincing people that government is doomed to fail, then insuring that outcome by under-funding it.  Shorter answer: everybody wants society, but fewer and fewer people want to contribute to it.

      • Pessoa January 21, 2022 (2:02 pm)

        That is a gross over-simplification, of course.  Someone who votes for a tax to fund infrastructure may balk at a school levy, or vice versa.  Moreover,  it may reflect someone’s dissatisfaction with how taxes are spent, not their parsimoniousness.  When a school levy comes to the public, I look at how a school district is performing, where the money is spent and how wisely it is being spent.  I am not inclined to vote for an operations levy in which schools have been shuttered, adversely effecting kids scholastic and emotional development, or schools that introduce  certain curriculum that really doesn’t spark free-wheeling debate, but is only dull, unintellectual social engineering.  

  • james January 20, 2022 (7:35 pm)

    We really need to go back to taxing capital gains and income and less so on property and sales tax. It’s backwards in Washington.    

    • Ms. Sparkles January 21, 2022 (11:08 am)

      Amen.  That is an absolute truth.

  • Tom Whitmore January 21, 2022 (7:55 pm)

    When I clicked on the link to the Proposition 2 “Yes-No statements and other background” it took me to the Proposition 1 statements again. Is this just me, or is everyone else not reading the background material, or has read it elsewhere? After 4 days I’d expect someone else to have commented on this!

    • WSB January 21, 2022 (8:12 pm)


      • Tom Whitmore January 21, 2022 (9:14 pm)

        Worked now — thank you!

  • Shaun January 24, 2022 (2:25 pm)

    Thank goodness we have a choice! No one should be shamed into voting for a levy that they don’t like. If you are one of the many taxpaying citizens disgruntled with how the Seattle School District spends your money, you can VOTE NO – PROP 2. If you’d like to do more to help get the word out to others, go to: https://fundly.com/vote-no-prop-2

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