The Highline Public Schools Bond (Proposition 1) this week earned unanimous endorsement from the Seattle King County REALTORS® (SKCR).
The measure, which seeks to raise nearly $518.4 million and needs a 60% yes vote to pass, will be on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot.
The Realtor endorsement followed a presentation by district and campaign committee representatives and discussion by members of the association’s Governmental & Public Affairs Committee.
Realtor Michelle Hunt, speaking in favor of the measure, said her son attended the Puget Sound Skills Center hosted by the Highline School District (EDITOR’S NOTE: South King Media Founder/Publisher Scott Schaefer served as a Mentor to numerous Interns from the Puget Sound Skills Center school for several years.)
“This program provides hands-on opportunities for students with different learning styles and provides a jumpstart for further education and career training,” said Hunt, SKCR’s VP-elect for government & public affairs and a broker at eXp Realty in Seattle. “This learning opportunity was not offered in his home district.”
If approved, the construction bond will provide funds to rebuild three schools and fund district-wide repairs and upgrades. The projects were recommended by a 40-member Capital Facilities Advisory Committee as part of a plan to replace aging buildings with safe, modern learning facilities.
The three schools slated for rebuilding – Evergreen High School, Tyee High School and Pacific Middle School – were built between 1955 and 1962. Design work for all three schools was funded in the 2016 school bond, which should expedite the construction process, according to campaign officials.
Advocates of the measure say the bond is not likely to raise taxes for most homeowners “due to expiring school funding measures – regardless of fluctuation in property values.” According to information on the district’s website, homeowners would pay $4.40 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2023, the same as this year’s rate. (Voters are asked to approve a dollar amount, not a tax rate. If property values increase, the tax rate decreases to generate the approved amount.)
“As a Realtor, I know firsthand the importance of a quality education through great schools,” said Rachel Mehmedagic (Adler), this year’s president of SKCR, and an owner at Windermere Mercer Island. “Research shows a strong correlation between school expenditures and home values. High caliber schools are an important consideration for house-hunters.”
SKCR’s president also noted research by the National Bureau of Economic Research that revealed for every $1 spent on school funding, property values increase by around $20. The research also showed additional school expenditures may benefit everyone in the community, including those residents who have no children in the local public school system.
“Modern, safe, and well-maintained learning environments are critical to helping students thrive and to prepare them to become part of a global workplace and engaged members of society,” said Garrett Nelson, this year’s vice president of governmental and public affairs at SKCR. “Studies also show modern designs increase student motivation, enhance collaboration, and can have a significant impact on learning outcomes.”
Taylor Shanaman, director of governmental & public affairs at SKCR, said committee members were impressed by Highline’s commitment to equity and to reducing achievement and opportunity gaps for its diverse population.
“Its goal of graduating students with skills necessary to live and work responsibly in a digital world is commendable,” Shanaman said, noting the district’s students speak 99 languages. Realtors also praised the district for its 20-year track record of on-time, and on- or below-budget school construction.
Shanaman said SKCR members who live in the Highline School District are urged to vote yes on Proposition 1, and to support the “Yes for Highline” campaign with donations and by volunteering to help get out the vote.
The Highline School District is among the most diverse districts in Washington state. It serves more than 17,500 students in grades K-12 at 35 schools in the communities of Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac, and White Center.
Seattle King County REALTORS join more than a dozen other organizations that have endorsed the bond measure. As part of SKCR’s endorsement process, applicants must complete a questionnaire detailing how funding would be used, citizen involvement in vetting the request, the impact on property owners, and various metrics that reflect returns on investments by homeowners and other stakeholders. The document is circulated to committee members before meeting with district representatives.