News Release: REALTORS® endorse bond, levy measures for Lake Washington School District

BELLEVUE, Washington (Jan. 26, 2018) – Three ballot measures for the rapidly-growing Lake Washington School District received unanimous endorsement from Seattle King County REALTORS® (SKCR) following a presentation and discussion. The measures will appear on the February 13 Special Election ballot.

Members of SKCR’s Governmental & Public Affairs Committee voted to support a bond measure and two replacement levies. If approved, the measures would help relieve overcrowding, improve safety and security and provide funding for various academic programs in the district, which serves more than 29,000 students from Kirkland, Redmond, and parts of Sammamish.

“Desirable housing communities are usually those with healthy schools from both an environmental and educational standpoint,” stated Kerri Nielsen, managing broker at the Sammamish office of John L. Scott Real Estate.

“Both buyers and sellers of real estate benefit when the educational needs of children are a priority. That’s why funding our schools based on community needs and desires is so important, and why local control of bonds and levies is valuable,” added Nielsen, who also serves on the executive committee for the Lake Washington Citizens Levy Committee.

Proposition No. 1, the Educational Programs and Operations Levy, would fund staffing for programs, safety and security, plus new teacher support programs, early learning programs, and athletics and extracurricular activities. The expiring levy provides around 19 percent of the general expense of operating LWSD. The replacement levy would generate an average of $63.5 million per year over the next four years. Tax rates would decrease from the current amount of $1.26 per thousand of assessed valuation to $1.03 per thousand.

The second proposition is a capital projects levy for facilities and technology. It would yield an average of nearly $37 million per year on a four-year cycle. Proposition No. 2 replaces an expiring levy without raising the existing tax rate. Among items the funding would enable are building, system and site improvements, facility code compliance and security, technology infrastructure and support, computer equipment, instructional software and support, and professional development for staff.

The third measure, a $299 million bond, would continue a program to fulfill task force recommendations to build or remodel overcrowded schools and aging facilities. A citizen-based 63-member group analyzed needs and identified specific projects.

If approved, Proposition No. 3 would authorize construction and equipment for one new elementary, one new choice high school (optional school alternatives), an addition at Lake Washington High School, remodeling at two schools, acquisition of land, and other capital improvements. Current tax rates of $1.31 per thousand of assessed valuation would continue.

Passage of all three measures would result in a tax rate of $2.93 per thousand of assessed valuation, a drop from the current rate of $3.16 per thousand. The two levies require a simple majority for passage, while the bond needs a minimum 60 percent “yes” vote plus a minimum voter turnout based on the last general election figures.

As part of an endorsement request, applicants must complete a questionnaire detailing how funding would be used, citizen involvement in vetting the request, the impact on property owners, and other background information. That document circulates to SKCR’s Government Affairs committee members prior to their meeting.

The Realtor association endorsement followed a presentation by attorney Walt Krueger, executive committee member from the citizen campaign committee. He noted LWSD has absorbed 10 straight years of enrollment growth, with an average of 700 additional students per year. Now ranked as the third largest district in the state, it is using around 170 portables to accommodate the expanding school population.

“Realtors understand the importance of strong, high-achieving schools and are actively engaged in education policy and school financing issues,” stated committee member Jerry Rippeteau, managing broker at Real Living Northwest and a 25-year resident of the Lake Washington School District.

As part of the Realtor organization’s support, Rippeteau said members pledge to help “get out the “YES” vote. Realtors are encouraged to support the grassroots campaign organization and to join other campaign proponents by displaying signs and participating in informational outreach activities.

David Crowell, JD, the association’s director of governmental and public affairs said members of the association consider the community involvement and fiscal aspects of any funding request. He noted Realtors were impressed that 63 citizens from the Lake Washington School District devoted nearly a year of their time to analyze needs and develop priorities and recommendations.

A district’s history of financial management, the cost to homeowners, and various metrics that reflect returns on investments also influence endorsement considerations, according to Crowell.

“Great schools are the foundation of our community’s future,” Crowell emphasized. The district’s highest bond ratings, above-average percentage of general fund spending on total teaching, and consistent recognition as one of King County’s “Best Workplace for Waste Prevention & Recycling,” are three noteworthy indicators of LWSD’s fiscal responsibility, he stated.

Sam Pace, a broker with Executive Real Estate and a 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, based in Bellevue, has approximately 7,000 members and is a local board of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Members of the nonprofit professional trade association 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 registered collective membership mark.