Realtors group throws support behind levies

Tahoma School District gains new ally in levy campaign

  • Wednesday, January 8, 2020 2:30pm
  • News

The Tahoma School District is receiving support for its two proposed levy ballot measures from the nearby cities, local campaign committees and now from a group of local realtors.

The Seattle King County REALTORS (SKCR) voted to endorse the two levies on the February ballot, according to a press release from the group. The two levies include the $75 million Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy and the $16.8 million Technology Levy. Both levies received unanimous support from the group, which boasts more than 7,000 members.

If approved by a majority of the voters, the 2020 EP&O Levy would renew an expiring levy and would close the gap between state and federal dollars provided and the true cost of operating the school district. It would supplement or fully fund a wide array of needs from salary and benefits for teachers and staff, to individual and small group instruction for students who are working below grade level, to sports, extracurricular activities and field trips.

Tanya Neilsen, a resident within the Tahoma School District boundaries and a broker with the Tamara Paul Group at RE/MAX Choice Executive in Covington, believes voters and homebuyers know good schools can define a community.

“It’s not just families with school-age kids that are concerned about the quality of schools when buying a home,” Neilsen stated in the press release. “Savvy buyers know that quality schools will be a factor in the sales price when it’s time to sell.”

At a meeting with members of SKCR’s Governmental and Public Affairs Committee, the district’s Assistant Superintendent Lori Cloud and community/schools volunteer Grifan Cayce, an attorney at Cayce Grove in Maple Valley, explained the financing request, the opportunities the measures would fund and the role of the Voice of Tahoma Education (VOTE) Committee, an independent organization of campaign supporters, the press release stated.

Prior to acting on the endorsement requests, SKCR committee members reviewed responses to a detailed, five-part questionnaire, which covered basic information about the proposal, the involvement of residents in the process, the impact on property owners and the campaign plan. The questionnaire also covered the district’s history of ballot measures and recent record of academic achievements and challenges, according to the press release.

If approved, Tahoma’s Educational Programs levy would generate just over $75 million over four years (2021-2024). It would cost property owners $2 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, an increase of $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation over the expiring levy. According to district data, the owner of a home valued at $500,000 would pay approximately $1,000 yearly for this measure, according to the press release.

The Technology Levy, if authorized, would reinstate funding that ended when a renewal levy was turned down by voters in 2018. In addition to helping the district to catch up with equipment replacement, maintenance and training, it enables implementation of the district’s 2019-2023 Technology Plan which includes providing support for teachers as they further integrate technology into curriculum, also according to the press release. The Technology Levy would yield $16.8 million over four years, based on a staggered rate ranging from $0.40 to $0.49 per $1,000 assessed value. The owner of a home valued at $500,000 would pay an estimated $235 the first year and $200 the final year.

Together, the two levies if approved would cost the owner of a home valued at $500,000 about $40 more per month than the current assessment.

Realtor Shane Davies, owner of Windermere Real Estate in Maple Valley, said they had planned to enroll their children in private schools, but decided against it, the press release stated.

“My kids had the most amazing education with the Tahoma district,” he stated in the press release, adding he is especially impressed it has retained the “We the People” civic education program. He also praised the district for its commitment to “Future Ready Students.”

Davies, the 2018 president of SKCR, also commented on the connection between quality schools and home values.

“The Tahoma District is recognized for its innovations in developing and using curriculum, and its test scores place it among the state’s top 5 percent. I know from my years as a realtor and from industry research that parents will pay a premium to be situated in high-performing school districts like ours,” Davies stated.

In addition to endorsing the Tahoma School District proposal, the Government Affairs Committee also voted to support funding requests from the Bellevue School District and the Kent School District, the press release stated.

SKCR, based in Bellevue, has more than 7,000 members and is a local board of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

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