This afternoon the Council avoided a showdown on a controversial proposal to use Families and Education Levy surplus funds to pay for the Seattle Public Schools’ switch to a two-tier schedule.
Council President Harrell introduced a new ordinance that would earmark $2.3 million from SDOT’s 2017 budget to pay for the additional busing costs, rather than using levy funds. Harrell’s bill was referred to the full Council and will be taken up this Wednesday afternoon at a special Full Council meeting in order to make a decision before a June 15th deadline.
In response, Council member Johnson moved to hold indefinitely his original bill (that would use levy funds). Council members Harrell, Burgess and Juarez voted against holding it, preferring instead to vote down Johnson’s bill in order to send a message to the community that the levy funds are well protected and won’t be diverted off to fund programs other than their intended goal: closing the academic achievement gap for communities of color and other underserved communities in Seattle. Nevertheless, the Council voted 5-3 to hold Johnson’s bill, and if everything goes according to plan on Wednesday we’ll never see it again and the Families and Education Levy funds will be untouched.
Here is a statement from Harrell and Burgess on today’s actions by the Council.