Mayor calls for doubling Seattle's families and education levy


by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

Posted on February 2, 2011 at 7:37 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 2 at 7:51 PM

SEATTLE -- Seattle's mayor is asking residents to step up in a much bigger way to help save Seattle schools.

The rally cry from City Hall calls for big changes to the Families and Education Levy, and big money.

The city says enough is enough -- test scores are falling while state funding gets slashed. So the mayor says it's time Seattle has a bigger say in its schools. 

In proposing the new levy, Mayor Mike McGinn put it bluntly: "I don't think things are working right now."

McGinn wants to nearly double the amount the city currently spends on Seattle schools.

"These are things that go above and beyond what the school district can do in terms of providing support for families, early learning, and other programs," he says.

The mayor wants $231 million for the next Families and Education Levy. Do the math and that amounts to about $124 a year for the average household, up $65 from the current levy.

But it may be a tough sell. A transit levy and seawall repairs are also on the November ballot.  Councilman Tim Burgess says our city's future depends on it. 

"We have a direct personal risk here. This levy is designed to address that," says Burgess.

Father Jim Yagle can think of three reasons he'd support the levy.

"Since I've got three young boys we've become more involved with how the district operates and you see lots of deficiencies," he says.

When it comes to reforming schools, there is a steep learning curve that whichever way you look at it, comes with a price.

The city council is weighing the cost and how the money should be spent. A vote to put the levy on the November ballot is expected by the end of March.