REALTORS Urge “Yes” Vote on Lake Washington School District Levy

A proposal for building additional classroom space in the Lake Washington School District  to accommodate growing enrollment earned an endorsement from the Seattle KingCounty REALTORS® (SKCR). The measure is on the Feb. 8 ballot.  The $65.4 million capital facility levy, if approved by voters, would cover the cost of permanent additions to house 250 students each at Eastlake and Redmond high schools, plus funding for a new secondary school for grades 6-12. That facility, to be built on property already owned by LWSD, would serve up to 675 students district-wide and focus on Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics (STEM).   SKCR president Kristen Greenlaw said the endorsement was by unanimous vote of the association’s Governmental & Public Affairs Committee, which considered several factors in its deliberations. The vote followed a presentation by LWSD superintendent Dr. Chip Kimball and Realtor Kerrie Nielsen, representing the Lake Washington Citizens Levy Committee.   Greenlaw, a REALTOR with Windermere Real Estate Northeast in Kirkland, said good schools are a priority for prospective home buyers. “They’re often the first thing homebuyers ask us about,” she remarked. Schools unify and define communities, she noted, adding, “Good schools are essential for preserving the value of family homes. They are critical for economic vitality and job creation.  But most important, quality schools are crucial to the futures of the students in the Lake Washington School District.   In a letter to Superintendent Kimball, the SKCR president, joined by Evangeline Anderson, 2011 vice president of governmental affairs for the association, cited several district achievements that contributed to the endorsement.     Among the factors the Realtors noted were the impressive number of teachers (100) in the district who have earned National Board Certification; the #24 ranking of its International Community School in U.S. News & World Reports’ top 100 high schools in the country; and the high percentage of graduates who enroll in college (71%). Also noteworthy is the students’ rising SAT/ACT scores, bucking the downward trend reported elsewhere in the state and nation. The Realtors also praised the district’s first-place position among schools statewide with 10,000-plus students with the top average score in reading for grades three through six, and the top writing score in fourth grade. -more- page two (Realtors endorse LWSD levy)Jan. 10, 2011   Lake Washington School District serves families in Kirkland, Redmond, and Sammamish. Covering 76 square miles, it is the sixth largest district in the state, with more than 24,000 students in 50 schools.   The District grew by more than 600 students this academic year compared to last year. It is expected to grow by at least 425 students per year for the next five years, with many schools already at capacity or overcrowded.   In response to overcrowding at some elementary schools, the district is eliminating computer labs and music rooms.  Even more drastic consequences are expected if the levy fails, including: • Double shift Eastlake and Redmond High Schools, which means half of students go to school in the morning and half in the afternoon. • Change school boundaries throughout the district to shift populations to the west, causing many students to be bused to schools farther from home. • Halt work on promised projects to renovate school buildings in Kirkland and Redmond that voters previously approved and determine if that money should be used for additional classroom space at the two high schools.   A successful levy means no high school grows to more than 2,000 students (capacity is at 1,600); no high school double-shifts students; and no high school adds portables. Additionally, there would be minimal new busing. Permanent classrooms would be built, along with core gyms and cafeterias, while space dedicated to computer and music programs would be maintained.   “SKCR applauds the district for its thoughtful work on considering options for addressing overcrowding and for making more efficient use of existing space,” Greenlaw stated.  “District leaders are to be commended for considering the input and preferences of residents when preparing this proposal.”   Greenlaw emphasized there is very strong support for Lake Washington Schools among REALTOR® members.  “We are very proud to be associated with the real estate industry leaders who stand firmly committed to a healthy community, and to the success of the children whose families our REALTORS® serve.”   The cost of the 2011 levy is $0.31 per $1,000 of assessed valuation; for a house valued at $500,000 that amounts to approximately $13 per month for six years.