News Release: REALTORS® endorse both levy measures for Kent School District

BELLEVUE, Washington (Jan. 29, 2018) – Two ballot measures that would provide critical funding for the Kent School District received unanimous endorsement from Seattle King County REALTORS® (SKCR). Both measures are on the February 13 Special Election ballot.

Members of SKCR’s Governmental & Public Affairs Committee voted to support the levies, including one that provides nearly 20 percent of the district’s funding for day-to-day operations at elementary, middle, and high schools. Additionally, if approved, the measures would help fund technology and maintenance for district facilities.

“These levies are crucial for closing gaps for educational programs, technology, and instructional spaces, while also ensuring safety and security at our schools,” said Brooke Valentine, a volunteer with Citizens for Kent Schools, and director of finance and operations at RE/MAX Choice Executives in Covington.

“In both my professional role and as a longtime volunteer for various school-related campaigns, I understand the importance of accountability and stewardship. Our district is committed to performance management. I believe these requests are essential to closing achievement gaps and providing a school environment where students from diverse backgrounds can flourish,” Valentine stated in her presentation to the Realtors.

With voter approval of the measures, overall local school tax rates would decrease over the next six years compared to 2018.

Proposition 1 is an enrichment levy, in place of an expiring levy. It would raise $94 million by imposing a levy rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value during 2019 and 2020. The expiring levy had a rate of around $2.77 per thousand. The revenue raised from the new levy would support the district’s General Fund educational programs and operational expenses not funded by the state.

The two-year Educational Programs and Operations Levy funds approximately one of every five employees and helps close the gap between state funding and community expectations. Along with staffing and transportation services, it supports athletics, music and drama programs, and expanded Early Learning programs.

Proposition 2 is a six-year levy to support the district’s Capital Projects Fund encompassing classroom technology tools and district facilities maintenance. In all, 307 critical repair projects have been identified district-wide as part of the Technology and Capital Levy. Conservation improvements and modernization measures are also part of the package to achieve well-maintained buildings with enhanced technology and updated energy management systems. The measure, a replacement of an expiring levy, is budgeted to raise$146 million between 2019 and 2024 using an annual levy rate of $0.75 per $1,000 of assessed value.

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, stated the Kent resident, citing the Schools & Housing 2016 Report Card published by the parent company of RealtyTrac.

“Realtors understand the importance of strong, high-achieving schools and are actively engaged in education policy and school financing issues,” stated SKCR president Shane Davies, the designated broker/owner of Windermere Real Estate in Maple Valley. “Our members emphasize both buyers and sellers of real estate benefit when the educational needs of children are a priority,” he added.

David Crowell, JD, the association’s director of governmental and public affairs,  said members of the association also consider the fiscal aspects of any funding request, including a district’s history of financial management, the cost to homeowners, and various metrics that reflect returns on investments. “Great schools are the foundation of our community’s future,” he stated, adding members were favorably impressed by the Kent District’s prestigious awards for innovative use of technology in an era of digital learning.

As part of the Realtor organization’s support, Crowell said members pledge to help “get out the “YES” vote. Realtors are encouraged to support the grassroots campaign organization, Citizens for Kent Schools, and to join other campaign proponents by participating in sign-waving events and informational outreach activities, he noted.

Kent School District is one of the largest and most diverse districts in the state, serving more than 27,000 students, with about half of them enrolled in free or reduced cost lunch programs. Families in the district speak 130 different languages. In addition to Kent, the district encompasses a significant part of unincorporated King County, all of Covington, and portions of Auburn, Black Diamond, Maple Valley, Renton, and SeaTac.

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.