The City’s primary role in the education of Seattle schoolchildren revolves around the Families and Education Levy. Using revenue from a voter-approved supplemental property tax, the Levy funds a variety of support services to improve the academic achievement of struggling students.
First initiated by Mayor Norm Rice and passed by voters in 1990, the 7-year Levy has been renewed twice by Seattle residents. The Levy approved by voters in 2004 placed a much greater emphasis on academic achievement than the first two. It also placed greater importance on accountability and outcome measurement. The City’s Office for Education, housed in the Department of Neighborhoods, administers Levy programs and tracks results.
In the first quarter of 2011, the City Council is considering a proposal to place a renewal of the Levy before voters on the November ballot. The proposed legislation is the result of eight months of work by a 24-member levy advisory committee and excellent collaboration between the Council, the Mayor and the School District. The committee unanimously recommended renewing and enhancing the City's investment in education.
The Committee adopted a single, overarching goal:
All students in Seattle will graduate from high school ready for college and career.
As proposed, the Levy would collect $231 million in Seattle property taxes over the next seven years, a cost of $124 (about $10 per month) to the homeowner of the average assessed residential value of $462,045 in 2012.
A final decision by the Council on the measure to send to voters is scheduled to occur in late March or early April.