The latest count on Wednesday showed voters continue to approve the Kent School District’s Educational Program & Operations Levy that will replace the current levy voters approved in 2018.
A total of 53.08 percent (11,574 votes) were in favor of the levy and 46.92 percent (10,232 votes) were against it, according to King County Elections on Wednesday. The Feb. 11 ballot results will be updated each weekday through Feb. 21. So far, 21,828 ballots were counted or 22.80 percent of the 95,736 registered voters. Election officials predicted a 32 percent voter turnout in the county.
“Thank you voters!” Citizens for Kent Schools posted on Facebook Tuesday night. The group campaigned for voters to pass the levy.
The early results gave confidence to Kent School Board President Leslie Hamada.
“I’m excited to see early returns in support of the levy,” Hamada said in a Tuesday night email. “I’m optimistic that results will continue to trend in the right direction to support our students, families, and educators in Kent. I’d like to thank the voters for their renewed confidence in the district. The board will ensure your tax dollars are spent wisely, as you intended, and in the best interest of our students.”
Voters in King County also were approving school measures in Auburn, Bellevue, Enumclaw, Issaquah, Tahoma, Tukwila and Vashon Island.
The proposed Kent renewal levy rate is $2.15 per $1,000 in assessed home valuation for two years. The maximum amount that can be collected in 2021 is $69 million. The maximum amount that can be collected in 2022 is $76.2 million.
Taxpayers will pay a combined approximate tax rate of $3.83 for all district measures (for 2016 bond debt service and the 2018 Technology and Capital Levy) in 2021 and 2022 if the proposed renewal levy is approved. The owner of a home valued at $600,000 would pay $1,290 per year in 2021 and 2022, according to the district.
The school district does not collect more money if property values increase. The levy would raise a maximum of $145.25 million over two years.
Local funding provides about 11 percent of the district’s annual budget, according to the district website. The state provides about 79 percent and the federal government about 5 percent with the remaining from a variety of fees, grants and donations.
Groups that endorsed the Kent levy included Seattle King County Realtors and 47th District Democrats.
If approved by a majority of the voters, the funding would help pay for:
• Student safety and school security
• Career readiness programs including opportunities for exploration acceleration and remediation in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM)
• Bullying prevention and social-emotional learning programs
• Educational support for students with special needs
• Daily operations to support clean, healthy, and well-maintained schools and classrooms
• Professional development for teachers, paraeducators, principals and educational support staff
• Essential staff such as classroom teachers, nurses, counselors, social workers, and bus drivers not fully funded by the state
Results in 2018
In 2018, the replacement and operations levy passed with 50.53 percent yes votes (12,790) and 49.47 percent no votes (12,524). After the initial first night count, the measure had 51.14 percent no votes (10,086) and 48.86 percent yes votes (9,637).
Voters approved a tech and capital improvements measure in 2018 by only 10 votes, 11,804 (50.02 percent) to 11,794 (49.98 percent). That measure also was failing after the count the first night.