Ballots For Highline Public School Levy Hit Mailboxes; Take Our Poll


Print This Post  Email This Post

Ballots for the Highline Public Schools educational programs levy are landing in local mailboxes this week, with a Feb. 8th return deadline.

The only “local” issue on the Feb. 8th Special Election, the levy makes up a quarter of Highline’s operating budget.

The new levy would replace one that expires this year.

Here’s the official ballot text from the King County Elections website (to download the entire ballot text as a PDF file, click here):

Proposition No. 1
Replacement of Expiring Educational Programs and Operation Levy

The Board of Directors of Highline School District No. 401 adopted Resolution No. 2444, concerning a proposition for a replacement levy for education. This proposition would authorize the District to meet the educational needs of students by levying the following excess taxes, in place of an expiring levy, on all taxable property within the District, for support of educational programs and operation expenses, including instruction, safety, materials and facility maintenance and operations:

Collection Year Approximate
Levy Rate/$1,000 Assessed Value
Levy
Amount
2012 $3.44 $46,000,000
2013 $3.44 $46,000,000
2014 $3.44 $47,000,000
2015 $3.52 $49,000,000

all as provided in Resolution No. 2444. Should this proposition be approved?

YES

NO

The Highline Public School District did not provide an “Explanatory Statement” to the county for the ballot, but here’s a statement from supporters:

“Unless we pass the levy, local funding for schools will end” says Lois Schipper, president of Highline Citizens for Schools. “That would be a devastating blow to our schools and our whole community. Neighborhoods with good schools are safer, and property values stay strong.”

About 80 percent of the levy dollars pay for teachers and other staff positions, according to the school district. The levy funds about 250 staff positions.

“The levy covers basics that the state doesn’t fully fund. In addition to personnel, it funds things like textbooks, bus transportation, and maintaining facilities,” says district spokesperson Catherine Carbone Rogers.

If the levy fails staff lay-offs could not be avoided, says Carbone Rogers. The district would be forced to eliminate courses and consider shortening the school day. Athletic programs and other “extras” would be on the chopping block.

“Levy failure will mean lost jobs, students receiving only the most basic education, larger class sizes, and much more,” says Highline School Board Member Michael Spear. “To ensure the continuing success of our students this Levy is critical.”

State funding reductions have forced Highline to cut $14.5 million from its operating expenses over the past 3 years. The district anticipates additional mid-year cuts of up to $2.1 million this year. State cuts of about $7 million are expected next year.

“Our schools simply can’t sustain cuts of that level without the levy,” says Schipper. “Our children will not get the education they need to compete for jobs.”

While the new levy replaces an expiring tax, there will be a slight increase in the levy amount to help cushion the impact of state cuts. The average Highline homeowner with a home valued at about $300,000 would pay about $14 more per month.

“That’s not a lot to pay for a good education and a healthy community,” says Schipper.

We couldn’t find any “opposition” website to this measure, but there is a Facebook Page for a supporter’s group called “Highline Citizens for Schools” here.

So…how will YOU vote? Please take our Poll below, or leave a Comment…

How will you vote in the Feb. 8th Election regarding the Highline Public Schools Levy?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Print This Post  Email This Post

Comments

26 Responses to “Ballots For Highline Public School Levy Hit Mailboxes; Take Our Poll”
  1. Bonnie says:

    Even though all of our children are out of the nest, my husband and I are firm believers in a strong school district. Good schools make a good neighborhood!

    Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  2. Abby says:

    We need to keep schools a top priority. If this levy doesn’t pass not only will our kids suffer, but so will our communities because of lack of jobs. Highline School District provides jobs for many people living in our communitites. Please vote Yes!

    Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  3. EFM says:

    If the levy only paid for teachers, then I would be OK with it. However, other “staff” is the last thing we need. Kids need teachers, not needless clerks and administrators. The school districts need to prioritize, identify their un-needed sacred cows and get rid of them. Just like my family did when we cut back on cable, cell phone service and dining out. And, yes, I think extra administration IS just like a nice meal out… especially when you already have plenty of food in the fridge.

    Rate: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Coverofnight says:

      There should be an exemption or discount for families that homeschool or send their kids to private schools. Also, it’d be helpful to know what the dollar amounts were for the expiring levy……is this new one twice the old? a 10% increase? Would sure like to see a detailed breakdown of where the money will go. Are the personnel getting nice fat raises? Is there retirement getting sweetened? Too many unknowns to blindly vote yes or no. Quite honestly, I don’t think that’s too much to ask, but transparency and full disclosure seem to be a thing of the past.

      Rate: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • Joanne Glasgow says:

        According to the fact sheet at the HIghline Shcool DIstrict webpage (hsd401.org) and the FAQ, this levy is a replacement of the expirign levy that was approved 4 years ago. While they do not say the rate of the previous levy, they to indicate that t6his is a slightly higher amount. I would recommend that you take a look at both documents if you have questons – they do lay out a strong case for passage IMHO

        Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    • Jennifer Fichamba says:

      As a note “other staff” would include para profesionals that work directly with students. I just thought I should clarify because I am sure you must think district office only. I will say it is important to pass the levy because with the looming cuts from the state this year it will certainly have an adverse affect to our schools.

      Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Lisa B. says:

    I voted yes. It’s a renewal of an existing levy that’s expiring, plus some additional $. I’ll vote down every other tax but this one is important. Camp Waskowitz is also at risk if the levy fails and it would be a shame to see that go away.

    Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. melissa says:

    I can see now why people on this blog don`t think much of you and wish you would just go away coverofnight.
    You really are a jerk are`n t you?

    Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Robin says:

      It appears to me that a handful of outspoken people don’t like CoverofNight.

      What, may I ask, is so ‘jerky’ about his comment? Is it his request for more information? His yearning for transparency in a publicly-funded school system?

      Wow. Crazy.

      I agree with his comment (this time). You, however, sound like a disgruntled school district employee.

      I will grudgingly vote for this measure, but I too, wish we could have more information about where the money will go.

      Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Joanne Glasgow says:

        There is a fact sheet and and FAQ at the shcool district’s webpage

        hsd401.org.

        Both have the answers you are seeking.

        Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Paul says:

    I will hold my nose and vote yes on this levy. I consider it my civic duty to support local education. Like Coverofnight, I would appreciate more transparency and accountability. When you compare the expiring levy to the new, the new levy represents approximately a 30% increase in rate. According to the school district statement, $14.5 million have been cut in the past three years. This is about $4.8 million per year. The new levy is projected to raise roughly $12 million per year over the previous levy. Even if one factors in the previous loss, this represents a significant raise in revenue without any explaination of where the funds are going and why so much is needed.
    Consider this analogy. If one of your utility companies were to raise your rates by a similar 30% wouldn’t you want an explaination? Or would you simply pay the increase without question.
    By the way Coverofnight, there should be no exemptions for home schoolers, people who put their kids in private school, people without children or anybody else. We are the body politic and are all in this together.

    Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Hotrodgal says:

    Right on Paul for your opinion and I have revised my post since you answered some my questions. I don’t agree with all you say but appreciate your input and information.

    Melissa, you need to stop making personal attacks on other posters.
    It’s quite rude and borderline trolling..

    CoverofNight, you made me adjust the post I was about to make…well said and we DO need transparency. You sayed: “Would sure like to see a detailed breakdown of where the money will go.”

    With the annexation’s addition of 14,000 residents and hundreds of businesses added (info per this site) and many vacant properties (all of which get taxed); I would think Burien could surely afford basic, QUALITY schooling.

    If you’ve gotten the Highline “report card” in the mail, otherwise available here:

    http://www.hsd401.org/ehighlights/ct.ashx?id=1871bb62-d6bf-4e4c-a117-ea13a1953e9a&url=http%3a%2f%2fwww.hsd401.org%2fourdistrict%2fnews%2fHPS%2520report%2520card_%2710.pdf

    …maybe you will agree that we are not getting our moneys worth …quite embarrassing.
    If the land owners in this city were asked to decide, maybe some more facts should be in order…
    What were the percentages per $1,000 in home value before 2011 and would the district be totally without funds if this does not pass?
    According to Mr. Schipper, “About 80 percent of the levy dollars pay for teachers and other staff positions, according to the school district. The levy funds about 250 staff positions.”
    This surely can’t include teachers or we would be talking about $147,000+ annual salaries. A handsome amount, to be sure.
    Perhaps this needs some more looking into and more statistics added so we can be assured our kids will be actually getting a quality education for our property tax dollars.

    BTW… As far as I know, Camp Waskowitz gets plenty of donations from Boeing Employees Credit Union plus many others…it’s not the issue here.

    As with the Car-tab vote…perhaps this conversation is mute. 🙁

    Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Burienite says:

    Not sure why you mention annexation, as that has absolutely nothing to do with Highline Schools. Keep in mind, that the district covers a large geographic area, and Burien is only one city IN the district. So your inclusion of annexation into this discussion is meaningless.

    And you also go on to say that “…surely Burien could afford basic, QUALITY school.” Huh? You make it seem that it is the City of Burien that is operating a school system. Again, there is a school district that serves our area (and Seatac, Des Moines, etc). It is called Highline School District #401.

    Get your facts straight…

    BTW, on the fence on this one. I too have read the district report card that they mailed out, and I’m embarassed to say I went to Highline Public schools. The stats are terrible. Throwing more money at the district may or may not help. I know the district has a tough time educating the numerous minority students, many of which are ELL (English Language Learners) of hispanic background. I also know that many are transient, and come and go throughout the year. Tough to keep consistancy in the classroom with such high turnover during a school year.

    I honestly don’t know what the short and long term solution(s) are.

    Again, on the fence on this one, but most likely will vote yes.

    Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Dale says:

    Vote no and start the transition to the Separation of School and State.
    http://www.freedomofeducation.net/

    And for sure the Tree Hugger Camp Waskowitz should go sooner rather than later.

    Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Dogpatch says:

    Must of been a full moon when some of these replies were written. Certainly has an edge to downright disrespectful tone to a lot of them. My thanks to those of you who wrote calmly and clearly, without the “in-your-face” over-tones.

    Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Bryan says:

    Vote NO! – Yes is this a renewal but they aren’t being upfront about the increase. Here is a breakdown of the last three levies:

    2004-2007 $112,000,000 (http://www.seattlepi.com/local/120676_highline06.html)
    2008-2011 $140,430,000 (http://your.kingcounty.gov/elections/200703/highline.pdf)
    2012-2015 $188,000,000 (B-Townblog)

    Everyone is hurting for money but let’s not greedy in this time of need, or be liers. What kind of examples are they teaching kids? I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want to see my taxes going up.

    Please vote NO for Prop 1.

    Rate: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. Mr. Payne says:

    Vote NO on this Prop. And stop feeding the beast (for a while).

    More money into our PRESENT education system does not make better education for our students. They must shake up the status quo before more money, sumarilly thrown into the pot, is justified. Especially since they want MORE than they had before.

    Our schools don’t need to look like Chuck E Cheeses to attract our children. They will go if their PARENTS hold them accountable for going and attaining good grades. Teachers should be paid commensurate with the results they produce, not just because they have been there a long time.

    Time to tighten our belts for awhile until more prosperous times come back. The kids will be fine if the parents do their part.

    Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Lee Moyer says:

      I agree that if the parents do their part the kids are fine. In fact, almost any type school will work with the parents suplementing the educational short falls. However, the fact is, for many reasons, many parents do not do their part. Should the kids suffer for that? The schools need to offer these kids counseling and supplemental courses or the schools can stick to the basics and abandon the needy kids.
      I read where the king county jail has excess room, so if one doen’t want to support the schools, at least the short term costs are partially covered.

      Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Mr. Payne says:

    Again, they can do all that, and keep the little kiddies out of jail, without an EXTRA $48 million dollars on this 4-yr levy. Its easy to spend other people’s money, and now we need to be grown-ups and do the “hard/right” thing.

    How did we ever send a man to the moon with such “substandard schools” back in the day?

    Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Janice says:

    I am researching this levy, and I, too, am dismayed at the lack of information. Here is what I have found out: With the previous levy, the levy amount was $2.82 per $1000 assessed value. That levy was for $140 million, roughly $35 million per year. This levy will raise the rate to $3.44 per $1000 for the first three years, then to $3.52 for the last. This levy amount is $188 million, which translates roughly to $47 million per year. (Actual yearly amounts vary, but I am keeping it simple.) No matter how you slice it, that’s a healthy jump.

    According to an article in the Federal Way News (www.federalwaynews.net/2011/01/31/news/timesnews-editorial-support-highline-schools-levy), and this is where I get concerned, “That total amount is divided among the district’s properties. If your home value goes down, your levy rate will go up but you will be still pay the same share. If your home value goes up, your rate per $1,000 will go down but you will still be paying the same total.” Well, according to recent reports from Forbes magazine and other business publications, we are in for more drops in property values in this area. This is one of the reasons why I object to the levy.

    This economic debacle greatly affected my standard of living, as it did with so many others. I have had to learn to make due with much less. I think the District would have been more prudent to ask a more modest increase. (Frankly, they should not have requested a raise at all.) Children should have a good education, but I think it’s time to revisit how and what they are taught. As the last several years have shown, throwing more money into the school has not been the answer.

    Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Concerned Parent says:

    If you read the fact sheet and FAQ posted on the district website http://www.hsd401.org, you will see the reason for the increase. When the state slashed education funding last session, they gave school districts permission to ask their voters for an increase in their levies to cushion the blow.
    All of us who run a household know certain costs keep going up– like the cost of gas, food, and utlilities– and we don’t have control over that. Same thing applies to the school district. Think about all the energy it takes to heat schools and the gas it takes to fill school busses every day. The cost of doing business is higher than it was four years ago– or even one year ago.
    I know for a fact that school district administrators have taken pay cuts for a couple of years, and the district has eliminated 20 administrator positions. I don’t believe what they’re asking for is frivolous.
    If we want to see schools perform better, giving them less money to do the job is not the way to do it.

    Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Elizabeth2 says:

      I think the Highline School District needs to take a hard look at how and where they spend the money they are already getting.

      Having worked there, I have seen times when the staff is told there is money left over in the budget and it must be spent up quickly before the end of the year or else. Orders went in for unneeded and miscellaneous supplies which the staff then used personally. When this miuse was brought up repeatedly, it was ignored by those in charge.

      There are staff members who are incredibly incompetent but are represented by very powerful Unions (many administrative staff are represented by the Teamsters – explain the need for that one!). Principals give up trying to manage or discipline staff members because they know they lack the ultimate weapon of terminating someone unless they are in for a many year fight. The staff members involved know this and there are huge abuses that go unchecked.

      These people get shuffled from school to school with principals at one school helping these sad people to get jobs somewhere else to be someone else’s problem.

      All the various school districts need to get tough and figure out how to live on the money that has been alloted to them. Yes, this may mean hardship for some but that is the way it works in the real world. Learn to live on the budget one has.

      Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Concerned Parent says:

        Elizabeth, there are a few bad apples in every barrel, but as a rule what I see is teachers working harder and harder to teach to higher standards and expectations with fewer and fewer resources. The district has cut back a bunch over the past few years– there’s no more fat to cut.
        If we vote down the levy and schools have to cut back by 25%, who’s the big loser? It’s only going to hurt our kids and ultimately our community.

        Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • Ruth says:

          It is hard to believe anyone would vote against a levy that helps children. Maybe those at ERAC misuse funds at times (I have yet to know an organization that doesn’t) but our children are affected! Why can’t people see that our children need the money to have a good education. Who is going to fight for our children? The teachers and principals are doing the best they can with the money they have been given and now the government is going to slash their funds again. How can we live with ourselves if we vote against our children? They are the ones who are hurt in all of this. And we bicker over $12- I am amazed!

          Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  16. Bryan says:

    Thank you to all the voters who voted YES. My property value went down but my taxes went up. (The new assessments are available on King County’s website.)

    Rate: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0