Investing purposefully in our kids
Last Monday afternoon, a special Council committee voted 9-0 to place a renewal and enhancement of the City’s Families and Education Levy on the November 8, 2011 general election ballot. The Full Council will give final consideration to this measure this coming Monday at 2 p.m.
My colleagues and I voted unanimously to send the renewal measure to the voters after listening to Interim Superintendent Susan Enfield deliver an emphatic statement on how she intends to bring change to the School District. Watch Enfield's remarks here.
A 24-member citizens advisory committee, including representatives from the Mayor, the City Council and Seattle Public Schools, spent eight months preparing the levy package. The Council met five times since January to consider the legislation and held a public hearing. Many of you e-mailed comments and questions after my February newsletter. Thank you for engaging with me.
As you may know, the current Families and Education Levy expires this year. The legislation we approved in committee this week, Council Bill 117103, would collect $231 million in Seattle property taxes over the next seven years, which translates to an approximate cost of $124 to the homeowner of the average assessed residential value of $462,045 in 2012, or about $10 per month.
The Levy would fund evidence-based programs to help at-risk students and low-performing schools. These programs supplement the basic academic instruction provided by Seattle Public Schools. The Levy would also provide continued funding for school-based health centers and enhanced early learning opportunities to ensure young children enter kindergarten ready to learn alongside their classmates.
Health clinics are effective academically, too. Students who use the clinics have fewer absences, higher GPAs and up to a 33% higher likelihood of graduating from high school on time compared to students who don't use the clinics.
All levy funds are controlled, managed and administered by the City government, not the School District. Funds are spent after an open, competitive process to select the best partners to help our kids learn.
The week before our vote, we saw an encouraging concrete step by the District to rebuild public trust. The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission agreed to provide oversight and ethics training for Seattle Public Schools employees at the District’s request. This is a smart move for Seattle and for our schools. It gives valuable and professional services to the District and moves attention back to where it belongs—from District headquarters to our classrooms.
We all want a good education for all the children of Seattle. I look forward to finding more ways for the City to partner with Seattle Public Schools toward this end.
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