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City of Seattle
Seattle City Council

SUBJECT: Citizen panel urges enhanced school programming

2/3/2011  2:05:00 PM
Nate Van Duzer, Councilmember Burgess’ office, (206) 684-8806
Megan Coppersmith, Council Communications, (206) 615-0061

Dana Robinson Slote  (206) 615-0061

Councilmember Tim Burgess

Citizen panel urges enhanced school programming
City Council deliberates recommendations

Seattle –  A 24-member levy advisory committee unanimously recommended enhancing the City's investment in children and schools in a report recently sent to the Mayor and City Council. This investment, according to the committee, is to achieve a single, overarching goal: all children in Seattle will graduate from high school ready for college and a career.

The committee's report culminates eight months of preparation and planning for renewal of the City's current Families and Education Levy, which will expire at the end of the year. On Monday, the City Council will introduce collaborative legislation, Council Bill 117103, which will place a new levy before voters, likely in November.

"The jobs our children will be vying for in the future will require more skills and education than previous generations," said advisory committee member Sandi Everlove. "The bar is rising for our students, and we need to do more to ensure that they are able to meet those higher standards."

"The advisory committee reviewed every program funded by the current Levy, examined student data and listened to parents, students, teachers, and principals about what they need to prepare all students for the future. It became apparent to all of us that our current investments are not sufficient," Everlove added.

The committee's recommended proposal would collect $231 million in Seattle property taxes over the next seven years, a cost of $124 to the homeowner of the average assessed residential value of $462,045 in 2012.

The Levy would fund programs with proven results to help at-risk students and low-performing schools. These programs, directly administered and controlled by the City, 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.

"Enhancing this Levy is critical to the future of Seattle because we bank on our children's education in so many ways," said Tim Burgess, Chair of the City Council's Public Safety and Education Committee. "Everything we want for Seattle – a robust economy, an equitable society, a fair justice system – starts with a strong education for our kids."

Burgess continued, "We know now that just graduating from high school no longer guarantees success. A recent study estimated that 67 percent of jobs in Washington State will require some form of post-secondary education by 2018. All of us – the City, the School District, teachers, parents, and community organizations – must increase our efforts to prepare every child to graduate high school ready for college or the career of his or her choice."

A special Council committee has started deliberations on the current proposal and the next meeting will take place at noon on Friday, Feb. 4 in Council Chambers. At this meeting, the Council will hear more research about the critical importance of student health and early learning investments.

The Council will reach a final decision next month as to the best measure to submit to the voters. A public hearing on the legislation to review the levy proposal is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 17 at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers.

The City approved the first Families and Education Levy in 1990 and renewed its commitment in both 1997 and 2004.

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