Press Release: REALTORS® endorse two levy measures for the Bellevue School District

BELLEVUE, Washington (January 18, 2022) – Two ballot measures for the Bellevue School District earned endorsement from Seattle King County REALTORS® (SKCR). The propositions on the February 8 ballot need a simple majority for approval of renewal levies for educational programs and operations and for technology and capital projects for the district, which serves nearly 20,000 students.

“As a REALTOR®, I know firsthand the importance of a strong community and quality education through strong schools,” said Bellevue resident Renuka Getchell of Windermere Real Estate/East. The longtime volunteer with the Bellevue School District and co-chair of the Citizens Committee for Bellevue Quality Schools was among district representatives who requested levy endorsement at a meeting with members of the REALTOR® association’s Governmental & Public Affairs Committee.

Committee members voted to support both measures following a presentation and discussion. If approved, the propositions would replace expiring levies to help fill gaps between state funding and critical needs for tools, programs, and facilities. In 2023, the cost per homeowner for a million-dollar home would be $1,330.

Proposition 1, to renew the educational programs and operations levy, would fund additional school staff, 7th period classes and tutorial, world languages in middle schools, additional school nurses, counselors, special education, STEM programs, AP classes and a variety of after-school extracurricular activities. For the four-year period from 2023-2026, the amount expected to be collected if voters approve the proposition would be $308 million.

The second proposition, to renew a technology and capital projects levy, would fund access to new technologies and software, a computer or tablet for every student, technology for classrooms, professional development for educators, and various repairs, maintenance, and improvements to school buildings. This levy would generate $228 million during the four-year span (2023-2026) it would cover.

Melissa deVita, deputy superintendent for the Bellevue School District, said the levies represent about 20% of the district’s general fund. “We’re experiencing a triple squeeze,” she told the REALTOR® during a virtual meeting. She cited declining revenue associated with drops in enrollment, increased costs due to COVID-related expenses for cleaning and technology, and support for increasing social and emotional needs as factors.

“Research shows a strong correlation between school expenditures and home values,” stated Rachel Mehmedagic (Adler), this year’s president of SKCR. “High caliber schools are an important consideration for house-hunters,” she remarked. She also noted findings from the National Bureau of Economic Research indicate additional school expenditures may benefit everyone in the community, whether or not those residents have children in the local public school system.

“Access to modern technology is essential in my profession and for students as they prepare to become part of a global workplace and engaged members of society,” said Garrett Nelson, this year’s vice president of governmental and public affairs at SKCR. “Also critical are modern, safe, and well-maintained learning environments,” added Nelson, a managing broker at Executive Real Estate in Bellevue.

Nelson said REALTORS® endorsed both propositions by a near-unanimous vote. “Our members recognized the district’s reputation as a national model of educational excellence and its commitment to a rigorous and relevant education for its diverse population.” (District figures show 41.2% of students speak a first language other than English, with 104 languages spoken system-wide.) Nelson said REALTORS® also share BSD’s belief in safe, secure, and stable learning environments.

REALTOR® association president Mehmedagic, a managing broker at Windermere Mercer Island, said SKCR members who live in the Bellevue School District are urged to vote yes and to support the “Yes” campaign with donations and by volunteering to help get out the vote.

The Bellevue School District and its 29 schools serve most of the city of Bellevue along with surrounding communities of Clyde Hill, Medina, Hunts Point, Yarrow Point and Beaux Arts. Portions of Issaquah, Kirkland, Newcastle, Redmond, and unincorporated King County are also included in its service area.

Fourteen school districts in King County have funding measures on the February 8 ballot. Seattle King County REALTORS® also endorsed three propositions from the Lake Washington School District. As part of the endorsement process, applicants must complete a questionnaire detailing how funding would be used, citizen involvement in vetting the request, the impact on property owners, and various metrics that reflect returns on investments by homeowners and other stakeholders.

SKCR, based in Bellevue, has more than 7,500 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.