News Release: Bond proposal for Federal Way schools earns REALTOR® endorsement

BELLEVUE, Washington (Sept. 25, 2017) – A $450 million “modernization facilities” bond measure for Federal Way Public Schools earned unanimous support from Seattle King County REALTORS® (SKCR) following a presentation by the district’s superintendent and a community representative.

Voters will decide the fate of the measure on Election Day (Nov. 7). The proposition addresses aging and deteriorating facilities, overcrowding, and safety enhancements for the fast-growing district while adding no new taxes. The current tax rate of $2.05 per $1,000 of assessed valuation would continue.

“With 19 of our 40 schools being at least 40 years old, the need to modernize and rebuild is urgent,” real estate broker Susie Horan emphasized during a meeting of SKCR’s Governmental & Public Affairs Committee. Horan, a volunteer on the 100-member Facilities Planning Committee and manager at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate in Federal Way, noted this committee conducted a needs assessment and gathered information at a series of forums, site visits and meetings.

“I’m proud to report the district has demonstrated both a track record of fiscal responsibility and some notable improvements in academic achievement and graduation rates, especially considering the challenges of having 112 languages spoken in its 39 schools,” she stated.

District records from a 2007 bond indicate the design and construction of facility upgrades at 31 schools and facilities were fulfilled on time and under budget during that six-year program.

“Many facilities are deteriorating and over capacity,” Horan reported, citing data showing K-5 elementary schools are over capacity by an estimated 1,000-plus students, with enrollment increasing by around 300 students per year.

“We need more classrooms to relieve the overcrowding, and we need modernized, technology-enriched classrooms so our student scholars are prepared for college and careers,” Horan stated. “As Realtors, we know high-performing schools are at the top of most buyers’ checklists; they help boost our quality of life and are the hallmark of a great community,” the veteran real estate broker commented.

Joining Horan at the meeting with Realtors was Dr. Tammy Campbell, who became superintendent in April 2015. She highlighted the district’s strategic planning process that began in the 2015-16 school year, as well as the district-wide STEM initiatives, and efforts to eliminate opportunity gaps.

Campbell, known as a passionate, transformational leader, expressed appreciation to Realtors for their willingness to consider endorsements of school funding measures, saying, “You recognize that schools are connections to great cities and great communities.”

David Crowell, JD, director of governmental & public affairs at SKCR, echoed that sentiment. “Our members understand the importance of strong, high-achieving schools. They live and work in 20 K-12 school districts in King County and are actively engaged in education policy and school financing issues.”

Federal Way’s Proposition No. 1, as it is titled on the ballot, provides district-wide safety and security benefits, plus funding for rebuilding, modernizing or expanding eight schools, most of which were built in the 1950s and 1960s. It would also enable renovation of Memorial Stadium, a sports facility used by schools and community groups.

In urging her colleagues to endorse the measure, which requires at least 60 percent approval, Horan also asked Realtors to help “get out the YES vote.” Realtors and other citizens are encouraged to support the Citizens for Federal Way Schools and to join other campaign proponents to urge passage by participating in sign waving events and informational outreach activities.

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

Sam Pace, a broker 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.

SKCR has more than 6,400 members and 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.