Seattle Public Schools officials are celebrating another levy victory after both Propositions 1 and 2 passed with nearly 70 percent of the vote on Tuesday night.

The district asked voters for two replacement levies for those expiring at the end of 2019 totaling nearly $1.5 billion between 2020-25.
The Educational Programs and Operational (EP&O) Levy and the Building Excellence V (BEX V) Capital Levy are two replacement levies to keep the district’s budget at its current funding levels.
Every three years the district asks voters to support an education programs and operations levy. The district asks for a capital levy every six years.

The BEX V Levy had passed with 65.81 percent of the vote, or 54,231 votes, and the EP&O Levy passed with 68.19 percent of the vote, or 56,235 votes by 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12.

“Thank you, Seattle community, for the continued support of our students, staff and schools,” said SPS superintendent Denise Juneau in a video posted to the district’s Twitter account on Tuesday night. “These two levies will support day-to-day operations for Seattle Public Schools including salaries, textbooks and materials, as well as help rebuild eight aging schools, improve safety and security, increase technology access and increase capacity across our district.”

According to a board action report from Oct. 30, the BEX V Capital Levy will cost $1.4 billion over six years (2020-25). The EP&O Levy will cost $815 million over three years (2020-22).
Information provided by the King County Assessor’s Office shows the total SPS tax rate is $201 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

The district plans to collect $271.3 million in 2020, $271.7 million in 2021 and $272 million in 2022 from the EP&O Levy.

During the campaign, the levies came under scrutiny for asking for a larger tax increase than allowed according to the legislative cap. Washington Sen. Reuven Carlyle questioned the district about the levy during a community meeting in December. Carlyle's main concern was that SPS was asking for a number that was essentially 98 percent above the levy cap price, which may cause some backlash against the district from lawmakers in Olympia.

According to its website, the district is hoping the Legislature will make changes to the current education funding formula to allow the district to raise the rate proposed on the February ballot. If the Legislature does not raise the cap, the district will only collect $53 per $100,000 of assessed property value for the EP&O Levy in 2020 instead of the asked $105.

Planning for the BEX V Capital Levy began in early 2016. A study of the district’s facilities names eight schools, which are aging and require the biggest updates: Rainier Beach High School, Mercer International Middle School, Alki Elementary, Kimball Elementary, Montlake Elementary, Northgate Elementary, John Rogers Elementary and Viewlands Elementary.

“I want to thank staff for developing levy measures that provide our students with educational opportunities districtwide and help bridge the gap between what the state funds for education and what our students need,” Juneau said in a Feb. 12 news release. “I’d also like to thank Schools First for volunteering their time to help ensure our community understood the importance of replacing these levies and renewing their commitments to our schools.”