Council President Bruce Harrell (District 2, Southeast Seattle) and Councilmember Tim Burgess (Position 8, Citywide) issued the following statement after the Full Council moved to hold legislation which would have repurposed $2.3 million in Families & Education Levy dollars to pay for school bus transportation services:
“When Seattleites approved the Families and Education Levy, they did so expecting that their property tax dollars would be dedicated to reducing disparities in education and improving academic achievement in Seattle Public Schools. Today, a measure was proposed to use Levy dollars to fund Seattle Public Schools’ effort to switch to a two-tier bell system — a laudable goal, but it was clearly the wrong funding source.
“That proposed legislation not only violates the clear intent of the voters of Seattle, it diverts funds away from our most academically at-risk children, a policy choice that is morally wrong and inconsistent with the Levy’s purpose. After our review, it’s clear that the Levy does not allow dollars to be spent on bus transportation services, and the citizen oversight committee we appointed agreed with our assessment.
“For that reason, we propose a funding alternative, using SDOT dollars to pay for the shift to two-tier bell times. Honestly, these dollars should have come from the state, but after seeing perpetual inaction there, we realize that depending on that money would be a pipe dream.
“We hope that now that this proposal is D.O.A., future attempts to divert Levy dollars for tangential purposes will suffer a similar fate. We look forward to voting on our alternative proposal at this Wednesday’s 4 p.m. Special Full Council meeting.”