Washington schools call for votes on special polling levies
SEATTLE – Washington school districts are asking voters to support big projects. Dozens of bail applications and levies are on the ballot for the Feb. 8 special election.
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is one of several districts in western Washington with proposals on the ballot. SPS has an operations tax and a capital tax for Buildings, Technology and Education/Athletics (BTA V) that expire in 2022. If voters approve both, the existing levies would be replaced. Fred Podesta, assistant superintendent of operations for the district, said the state provides a lot of funding to schools, but there are gaps that affect the learning environment for students and staff.
“Bridging the gap, so we can have what we really need to run the schools. I can’t imagine what Seattle public school operations would be like without the support of local voters and these levies,” Podesta said.
The neighborhood has a dozen buildings that are over 100 years old and need renovations. Memorial Stadium in the heart of the city isn’t as old, but officials said the site is in its final days. BTA V would fund the necessary upgrades to these buildings and keep the stadium open.
“Anyone who has lived here for a while has memories there. But the building was built in the late 1940s. It’s over 70 years old and it’s just time to reinvest. That’s a lot of concrete that is beginning to deteriorate. It is no longer the safest place during a seismic event,” Podesta said.
If approved, BTA V would raise $783 million over six years. Nearly $67 million of those dollars would pay for long overdue stadium renovations.
“We need a modern facility with working plumbing and reasonable amenities, such as changing rooms for our student athletes. We need a new pitch,” Podesta said.
These upgrades, along with new stands and lighting are the only things Podesta needs for the district’s use of the stadium. He also said the city now wants to partner, to make the venue even better for more events and gatherings open to the public.
“Our partnership with Seattle is dependent on the levy being passed. If this levy wasn’t approved by voters, I think we’d still be piecing things together and then figuring out what the long term is because we can’t really keep the stadium open indefinitely in its current mode without big reinvestment,” Podesta said.
Investing in the future is what school districts across the state are hoping voters will say yes to. Tacoma Public Schools is offering two levies, one that would allow children of all demographics to have access to updated technology.
“With the advent of COVID, all of our students now have a device of their own, so they have a laptop that they can use at school and at home. And the same goes for our staff. With this tax, it will allow them to continue to have updated devices,” said Nora Doyle, Tacoma Public Schools spokesperson.
Four districts in Thurston County have proposals on the ballot. The Olympia School District is seeking approval for its Technology and Capital Projects Replacement Levy.
Trying to navigate different websites learning all the proposals in the respective communities can be a hassle. FOX13 News has created a list of links with swab information to help voters make their search a little easier.
MORE INFORMATION: February 8 special election: What’s on the ballot in Washington state?
RELATED: Washington students’ test scores drop dramatically
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