Magnolia Elementary School will reopen in 2018 as a result of the passage of the BTA IV levy. Photo by Joe Veyera
Magnolia Elementary School will reopen in 2018 as a result of the passage of the BTA IV levy. Photo by Joe Veyera

A $400 million increase across a pair of school levy measures didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of voters in Seattle last week, as both a capital and operations levy for Seattle Public Schools (SPS) cruised to easy approval. 

As of Thursday evening (Feb. 11), both levies were passing with more than 70 percent of the vote. 

The passage of measures — which only needed a simple majority — continues a long string of approvals for school levies in the city. 

 

Funding various programs

The three-year, $758.3 million operations levy accounts for approximately one-quarter of the SPS general fund operation budget and supports educational programs and services that aren’t fully funded by the state. 

Among the elements funded through that levy is professional development and training for staffers, bus transportation, textbooks and classroom supplies and a portion of teacher, instructional assistant and support staff salaries. 

It replaces the current operations levy — one that totaled $552 million — that was approved by voters in 2013. 

Meanwhile, the six-year, $475.3 million capital levy — also referred to as Buildings, Technology and Academics (BTA) IV — covers, among other things, school renovations, maintenance, health and safety improvements, athletic field upgrades and technology classroom equipment.

Most notably, the capital levy includes approximately $90 million to address capacity needs, with the reopening of three elementary schools and the expansion of Ingraham High School in North Seattle. About $20 million of that will go to renovate the Magnolia School building (2418 28th Ave. W.), which has sat vacant for more than a decade. 

In a media tour of the building earlier this month, it was revealed that the Magnolia School would reopen in 2018 and host approximately 500 students from kindergarten to fifth grade. 

The BTA IV levy replaces the expiring BTA III levy — approved in 2010 — which was for $270 million. 

 

Continued community support

In a statement after the first round of results were released on Tuesday night, SPS Superintendent Larry Nyland thanked not only voters but volunteers and the Schools First campaign organization for making the passage possible. 

“We need the support and collaboration of our entire community to reach the goal we have for our students — that they graduate from high school prepared for college, career and life,” Nyland said. “The consistent strong approval for Seattle levies is just one of the many ways in which our community shows that support.”

Vote totals continued to be updated by 4:30 p.m. every weekday on the King County Elections website until the final results are posted on Friday, Feb. 19. 

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