KingCounty REALTORS endorses Kent school levies

Two proposals for funding Kent schools received endorsement from the Seattle KingCounty REALTORS (SKCR). The measures will be on the Feb. 9, 2010 ballot.

SKCR president Dennis Brown said the endorsement was by unanimous vote of the association’s Governmental & Public Affairs Committee, which considered several factors in its deliberations.

The propositions include a Replacement School Programs and Operations Levy and a Replacement Technology Levy for the state’s fourth-largest school district. Kent schools serve approximately 27,000 students in a 71-square-mile area that encompasses much of Kent, all of Covington, parts of Auburn, Black Diamond, Maple Valley, Renton and SeaTac, as well as a significant portion of unincorporated King County.

The four-year programs-and-operations levy replaces funding set to expire at the end of 2010. The levy’s yearly cost will start at $56.1 million in 2011 and top out at $64 million in 2014. It provides 20 percent of the district’s annual operational revenue, including funding for supplies, services, and approximately one in five employees. If approved, a homeowner’s property taxes for this funding would be comparable to current assessments.

The 2010 Technology Levy will cost $5 million each year between 2011 and 2014 to maintain the district’s technology used on a daily basis by students and teachers.

In a letter to Edward Lee Vargas, superintendent of the Kent School District, SKCR president Dennis Brown said members were mindful of several factors in the endorsement, including academic achievements and fiscal management:

* The district met all standards on a 2009 state audit of federal program resources, achieving a perfect score.

* The Association of School Business Officials awarded the KDS the Certificate of Excellence following review of the district’s financial records. The citation marked the 22nd consecutive year of demonstrating ongoing commitment to wisely spend taxpayer dollars.

* The Washington State School Directors Association honored the KSD Board of Directors as 2008 School Board of the Year in the large district category.

* The district has 89 teachers who are nationally certified through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, including 26 teachers who earned certification in 2008.

* Students in grades six and higher are above state average in math.

* College Board SAT scores are above the national average in both reading and math.

Four schools were recently named “Schools of Distinction” by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for dramatic improvements in reading and math.

In urging voters in the Kent School District to join Realtors in supporting the measures, Brown noted the importance of good schools in a community. “Good schools are the first thing homebuyers tend to ask about,” he commented, adding. “Good schools preserve and enhance the value of family homes and they help unify and define communities. Quality schools are essential to the success of students in the Kent School District.”

To help get out the vote and promote passage of the levy measures, Brown said SKCR members are being asked to volunteer for phone banks, prepare mailings, help with sign-waving, and provide other hands-on assistance to the Citizens for Kent Schools campaigners.

The SKCR, with 6,000-plus members, is a local board of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). Its members 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 licensed collective trademark.

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