Two Seattle Public Schools levies are on the ballot for renewal this Tuesday, Feb. 12, and the McGilvra Elementary School community is reaching out to its neighbors asking for support.
“Both the Operations Levy and the Capital Levy are critically needed by all of our Seattle schools, but they are especially important to McGilvra and our neighborhood families this time around,” said McGilvra PTA co-president Todd Bare. “With the Capital Levy, McGilvra will get essential renovations, and our neighborhood will get the modernization and reopening of a Meany Middle School.”
The Operations Levy covers 26 percent of Seattle Public Schools’ operating budget and supports educational programs not fully funded by the state.
The Capital Levy (Building for Excellence, or BEX, IV) provides essential funding to maintain and improve Seattle’s aging schools, including critical earthquake-safety upgrades. McGilvra Elementary School is one of the schools that will receive improvement funding if the levy passes.
(Editor’s note: Leschi Elementary School, Washington and Meany middle schools and Nova Alternative School, among others across the city, would also get improvements under the levy.)
Schools in need
McGilvra’s building is 100 years old. Its small lunchroom is a repurposed classroom that cannot properly accommodate the growing student population — students eat in three crowded shifts that cut into valuable class time.
The three-story building has only two small, rustic bathrooms on the ground floor, which are not adequate for the 300 students. Water in parts of the building is non-potable, and there is no outside drinking water.
SBEX IV will fund a new lunchroom and address these and other core facility issues.
McGilvra’s needs are just the tip of the iceberg. Seattle Public Schools is experiencing major enrollment increases — this year, alone enrollment was up by 1,400 students. The growing demand for public-school education, coupled with an aging infrastructure, is putting increasing pressure on all of Seattle schools.
The BEX III levy addressed some of these needs by successfully replacing and renovating seven schools — on time and on budget. The BEX IV levy is slated to continue the essential maintenance and updates, including building new schools where needed.
In addition to McGilvra’s updates, additonalBEX IV will fund the complete modernization and reopening of Meany Middle School at East John Street and 21st Avenue East. The new Meany school is projected to open in 2017 — in time for current first-graders to enter the sixth grade. Having a completely renovated, up-to-date middle school so close to Madison Park and Madison Valley will be a huge asset to our communities.
Both the BEX IV levy and the Operations Levy are renewals of existing levies. The total additional cost of both levies going forward for the owner of an average $400,000 home is $13 a month.
Seattle’s proposed levy rate is still less than $3 per $1,000 of assessed home value — one of the lowest in the region. Most districts in the surrounding areas, including Bellevue and Lake Washington, are paying well more than $3 per $1,000 assessed value, with some approaching $6.
McGilvra’s parent community asks you to vote yes on the levies to renew our commitment to provide safe, quality schools for all of Seattle’s children.
For more information on the levies, visit the Schools First website (www.schoolsfirstseattle.org).
REGINA BROWN is secretary of the McGilvra Elementary School PTA. To comment on this column, write to MPTimes@nwlink.com.