Seattle approved several measures on Monday, including Mayor Jenny Durkan's proposed education levy. The levy now heads to the November ballot for voter approval.
The Seattle City Council approved the Families, Education and Preschool Promise Levy by a 9-0 vote.
Mayor Durkan's levy is expected to raise money for education, Pre-K, and to pay for a community college education for all Seattle high school students.
The new levy is expected to increase property taxes on a median home by roughly $20 per month. The mayor contends the investment will pay off.
The previous 2011 and 2014 levies were set to expire this year. Mayor Durkan proposed the new levy to combine both the 2011 Families & Education Levy and 2014 Seattle Preschool Program Levy.
Under the new levy, low-income seniors, people with disabilities and veterans with a service-connected disability will be eligible for an exemption.
The plan includes:
- Increase the number of children in preschool by 80 percent.
- Increase K-12 funding by 30 percent to invest in mental and physical health, college prep, and the rising number of students dealing with homelessness.
- Ensure that students who graduate from Seattle Public Schools get two years of community college tuition for free. Currently, in Seattle, low income and certain minority groups are roughly 40 percent less likely to graduate high school.
The previous Pre-K levy helped open new facilities across Seattle, including one near Miller Park, where up to 80 kids will be served this fall.
"We try to give kids open-ended problems to solve, and we try to engage their cognitive skills," says Teacher Sharon Pearce, adding, "So that they can be better prepared for Kindergarten and the rest of their lives."
Councilmember Rob Johnson, a proponent of the levy, acknowledged Monday that the head tax "was sucking up a lot of oxygen in the city," and the repeal "certainly creates better conversation with voters this November."