Press Release: REALTORS® Urge “Yes” Vote on Funding for Auburn Schools

BELLEVUE, Washington (Oct. 12, 2016) – REALTORS® voted unanimously to endorse a bond proposition to fund capital projects for the Auburn School District. As part of its support, association members pledge assistance with “get out the YES vote” efforts for the Nov. 8 election.

The new bonds (Proposition No. 1) would authorize construction of two new elementary schools to help reduce district-wide overcrowding, plus replacement of five existing elementary schools and a middle school.

If approved, the $456 million request could potentially generate $79 million in state matching funds.  A super majority of at least 60 percent approval is needed.

The proposal was developed by two community-wide committees involving more than 60 citizens. The group determined the six oldest schools in the district, with an average age of nearly 59 years, have exceeded their useful life and need vital modernization, including infrastructure to support modern technology and energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting. Earthquake readiness improvements and enhancements to security, traffic flow and pedestrian safety are also part of the package.

In considering bond and levy endorsement requests, Seattle King County Realtors (SKCR) requires applicants to complete a questionnaire for review by members of the association’s Governmental and Public Affairs Committee. A representative from the campaign is also invited to meet with the committee.

During a meeting with SKCR members Dr. Alan Spicciati, superintendent of the Auburn School District, emphasized the district’s reputation for “on time, under budget” construction projects. He also reminded committee members that the need to rebuild the six schools – which were built between 1945 and 1965 – has not changed since initially identified in 2008 when the Great Recession derailed plans and caused the district to focus solely on building Auburn High School.

“This proposal is lean and focused on our community’s needs,” he assured SKCR members, adding he believes it’s the right time to ask residents to support the crucial space needs for the growing enrollment.

“As Realtors we know first-hand the value of high-performing schools and access to safe, modern learning environments,” said long-time Auburn resident Nancy Colson, a broker at Windermere’s Lakeland Town Center office. “Good schools are at the top of most buyers’ checklists; they add to quality of life and are the hallmark of a great community,” she added.

Sam Pace, a Realtor with Executive Real Estate and a South King County housing specialist for SKCR, said buyers know good schools define communities. “It’s not just families with school-age kids that are concerned about the quality of schools when buying a home. Savvy buyers know that quality schools will be a factor in the sales price when it’s time to sell, he stated, citing the Schools & Housing 2016 Report Card published by the parent company of RealtyTrac.

In voting to endorse the measure, Realtors agreed the need is undeniable, noting 102 portables are in use at 22 schools and enrollment is at an all-time high. “Utilizing hallways and closets as classrooms and housing 2,500 students in portables is not the solution,” Pace emphasized.

Pace said the committee also praised the involvement of citizens in assessing needs and in developing the case for the “Building for Learning” Proposition 1 campaign. “We commend the volunteers with Auburn Citizens for Schools for their advocacy for the district’s students and teachers, and especially for their efforts to communicate with the area’s diverse population,” he added.

Colson (who attended Terminal Park Elementary School in its early years) and Pace pledged to encourage SKCR members who live in the Auburn School District to vote in favor of Proposition 1 and to help promote its passage.

Seattle King County Realtors, with more than 6,300 members, is actively engaged in education policy and school financing issues. At October’s meeting of its Government Affairs committee, members also voted to endorse the bond proposition for the  Kent School District Board.