Tahoma schools earn REALTOR® endorsement for April 24 levy

BELLEVUE, Washington (April 16, 2018) – Realtors joined the campaign to promote passage of an educational funding levy for the Tahoma School District by voting unanimously to endorse the measure. The proposition, if approved by a majority of those who vote on the April 24 Special Election ballot, would renew an expiring Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy for the next two years and prevent a funding gap for vital programs.

Members of the Governmental & Public Affairs Committee at Seattle King County REALTORS® (SKCR) evaluate various aspects of levy endorsement requests, considering academic and fiscal track records and citizen involvement in developing funding requests and priorities.

Committee members also had an opportunity to ask questions of guest speakers who attended their meeting, including retiring Superintendent Rob Morrow and attorney Grifan Cayce, a former teacher and dedicated volunteer with the district’s nationally recognized “We The People” civic education program.

“High quality schools help communities flourish and are essential to our students’ success,” stated SKCR president Shane Davies, the designated broker/owner of Windermere Real Estate in Maple Valley. “Our members understand the importance of high-achieving schools and are actively engaged in education policy and school financing issues,” he added. He emphasized both buyers and sellers of real estate benefit when the educational needs of children are a priority.

Proponents of the Tahoma District measure note the amount sought – estimated at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value during 2019 and 2020 — is significantly lower than the assessments for 2017 (at $3) and this year (at $2.84). Approval would generate approximately $22.5 million in the next two years.

Realtor Sean Henderson, a broker at Windermere Real Estate and longtime resident and community volunteer in Maple Valley, urged support of the measure. Before becoming a real estate broker, he worked in accounting as a controller and financial systems consultant. “As a financial professional, I know the Tahoma School District is incredibly well-run, financially responsible, and effective.”

Henderson also noted he and his wife chose to live in Maple Valley and within the Tahoma School District because of its quality of life and the confidence they had in the district. “We could not be more grateful, or proud, of the way Tahoma Schools helped prepare our two sons for the future. Our schools continue to be on the cutting edge of excellence with its ‘Future Ready’ activities and academics.”

Supporters also note Tahoma’s levy funding per student would be $1,278, the lowest among 14 districts in King County that have had EP&O levies on ballots so far this year. If approved, funds would be used to supplement special education and gifted programs; sports and extracurricular activities, including robotics, speech, and debate; the English Language Learners program, plus nurses and various other safety and security needs.

Materials produced by the district and the levy’s “Yes” campaign say denying funds for enrichment programs could have “devastating” direct and indirect impacts for students. They identified 21 potential items that are not fully funded by state and federal dollars that could be chopped by the School Board if the levy fails. (The shortfall from a levy failure is projected to be $15.5 million.) The cuts range from elementary STEM. art and music classes to before- and after-school childcare, sports and extracurricular activities, custodial work, field trips, supplemental reading and math assistance programs, and various other courses and staff positions.

Davies noted committee members were favorably impressed by Tahoma’s 91.6 percent graduation rate and its ranking in the top five percent among the state’s 295 districts. He also emphasized it’s not just families with school-age kids that are concerned about the quality of schools when buying a home.

Realtor Kristen Greenlaw cited her own experiences to illustrate that point. “I don’t have children, but I know strong schools define quality communities. Schools are the first thing homebuyers ask me about. The research is very clear: When it’s time to sell, homes in strong school districts command a higher price,” reported Greenlaw, a managing broker at Windermere’s Maple Valley office and a past president of SKCR.

Greenlaw, a generous supporter of various charities that serve Maple Valley residents, is also investing her own funds to support the Tahoma Schools levy. “Without this levy, our schools will have to make damaging cuts to programs, staff positions, safety and security. Our schools have earned a great reputation. It’s our job to protect it. That’s why I’m standing up, speaking out, and asking our neighbors to ‘Vote Yes Tahoma.’”

As part of SKCR’s support, members pledge to help “get out the ‘YES’ vote,” explained David Crowell, JD, the association’s director of governmental and public affairs. He said Realtors are encouraged to support the “Vote Yes Tahoma Schools” campaign organization, participate in sign-waving events, and join other levy advocates in informational outreach activities.

The Tahoma School District serves around 8,200 students in grade pre-K-12 in an spanning approximately 120 square miles. With its 1,000 employees, the District ranks as Maple Valley’s largest employer.

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.