REALTORS® Urge “Yes” Vote on Tahoma School Bond

PRESS  RELEASE: BELLEVUE, Wash. (Oct. 2, 2013) – REALTORS® voted to join other supporters of a bond measure for the Tahoma School District, not only by a unanimous endorsement of the proposal, but also by pledging assistance for a “get-out-the-vote” campaign. The $195 million funding request to build and renovate schools throughout the overcrowded district in Southeast King County is on the Nov. 5 General Election ballot.

Proposition No. 1, as it is titled for the ballot, would provide funding to construct a new high school and enable realignment and renovation of eight existing schools. Tahoma School District serves approximately 7,500 students in grades pre-K-12 in and around Maple Valley, one of the fastest growing areas in the state. (From 2000 – 2010, Maple Valley grew nearly 63 percent.)

“As a Realtor, I know first-hand about the value of good schools. It’s the first thing homebuyers ask about,” said Shane Davies, the father of two children who attend schools in the district. “To have the enthusiastic support of my colleagues from Seattle King County REALTORS® (SKCR) is gratifying – and to have some of them who don’t even live in the district volunteer to help with our phone banks speaks volumes about the importance and urgency of this funding request,” he stated.

In presenting his endorsement request before members of SKCR’s Governmental and Public Affairs Committee, Davies noted his teenage children will have graduated from district schools by the time new construction begins. “This is about relieving severe congestion in Tahoma’s schools, and providing a safe, secure environment where all youngsters can learn, develop life skills, create memories, and thrive.”

Davies, a longtime area resident, community volunteer, and the owner of Windermere’s Maple Valley office, said the proposition is also about sustaining the area’s reputation as a desirable place for raising a family. Maple Valley appears on several “best places” lists, including:

  • “The Best Places to Raise Kids 2013” (a ranking by Businessweek Magazine and Bloomberg);
  • “The Best Towns in Washington for Raising Kids” (2013, NerdWallet)
  • “Top 10 Hottest Suburbs in the U.S.” (2013, CBS MoneyWatch)
  • “One of the 10 Best Towns for Families (2011, Family Circle Magazine)

In its rankings, NerdWallet incorporates scores by GreatSchools, a national nonprofit that rates schools using various performance measures. The popular NerdWallet site aims to provide unbiased advice for empowering consumers to make smart decisions on financial products, education, travel, and shopping.

In selecting Maple Valley for its No. 1 ranking, NerdWallet singled out programs in the Tahoma district that “embrace the surrounding mountains, rivers and valleys as their living classroom, pioneering environmental education.” It also praised Maple Valley for being “a model for healthy, active families.”

That message apparently resonates with families.  The district has been well above average rates of enrollment growth since 1985, resulting in a 140 percent spike in the population of its schools and widespread overcrowding.

Despite the congestion, Tahoma School District is recognized as innovators in developing and using curriculum. Test scores place students among the state’s top 10 percent, on average.

David Crowell, SKCR’s director of governmental and public affairs, said REALTORS® are always mindful of tax burdens on homeowners, but said this need is compelling. He said the district’s funding request reflects thoughtful consideration of options and an inclusive, forward-thinking planning process, with an emphasis on safety and security upgrades.

The bond measure would raise $195 million, with repayment over a 20-year period. Factoring in $20 million in state matching funds, it would cost the owner of a home valued at $300,000 an additional $36.75 per month, or approximately $1.47 per $1,000 of assessed property, according to District estimates.

The bond measure that has paid for construction and modernization of Tahoma schools since 1997 will be retired in 2016.

The centerpiece of Prop. 1 would be a new high school for 2,400 students on a 35-acre site the city is in the process of annexing. In addition to accommodating students in grades 9-12, the new school would host cooperative learning programs with local community and technical colleges. These programs would be part of a community learning center for both high schoolers and community members.

Funding, if approved, would also enable realigning eight existing schools to eliminate portables, where about one-quarter of the district’s students currently attend classes. Bond monies would also cover construction or modifications for converting classrooms to make them grade level appropriate.

A 60 percent yes vote is required to pass the measure with a minimum turnout of 8,192 voters. Davies said a school funding measure was 10 votes shy of passing in 2000, and another measure, in 1998, failed by nine votes.

The SEATTLE KingCounty REALTORS®, with approximately 5,000 members, is a local board of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).  Its members adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and participate in matters at all levels of government that affect private property rights, housing supplies, affordability and homeownership opportunities.  Membership is voluntary, and only members may use the term REALTOR®, which is a licensed collective trademark.

FOR INFORMATION: David Crowell, JD, Director of Governmental & Public Affairs, 425-974-1011