Kent School District Superintendent Israel Vela. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Kent School District Superintendent Israel Vela. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Kent School District voters could face another levy in November

Superintendent Israel Vela reveals proposal to Kent School Board for less expensive measure

Kent School District voters might be asked on the Nov. 5 general election ballot to approve a capital levy measure.

Voters have turned down three consecutive capital funding measures, but Superintendent Israel Vela said during his June 12 report to the Kent School Board that it’s time to try again.

“Instead of being discouraged by the results, we are approaching this issue with courage and determination and an eye toward the future and not the past,” Vela said.

Vela said through surveys and dialogue with voters about their lack of support for the measures, district staff determined three main concerns:

• Increasing tax bills

• Amount of the levy request too large

• A perceived lack of details about the project list and whether those projects are truly necessary

“Clearly, a fundamentally different approach is warranted,” Vela said.

Vela proposes that the five-member board approve sending to voters a three-year levy aimed at the most critical needs and roughly 50% lower than the $190.2 million measure voters rejected in April with 56.7% against and just 43.3% in favor.

“While this reduction impacts what we can do for students, it sends a clear message to our community that we understand and are responding to the recent results,” Vela said.

According to staff and a public notice, specifics of the proposal will be released on the district’s website prior to a public hearing for resident input at the board’s June 26 meeting. That hearing is at 6:30 p.m. in the district’s board room, 12033 SE 256th St. A public hearing for the proposed 2024-2025 district budget also will be on the agenda.

Board member Donald Cook in an email to Vela and the board this week suggested a work session for the board about the levy proposal prior to the public hearing and the board’s vote on the proposal. As of Tuesday morning, June 18, no work session had been scheduled.

If the levy proposal to send to voters is approved by the board, it will be the fourth try to get voter support for capital projects.

Besides the April levy defeat, voters turned down basically the same proposal in November 2023 with 52% against and 48.8% in favor. The measure over the next three years (2025 to 2027) would have paid for health and safety upgrades at buildings, facility equipment replacements and improvements and technology education (laptops for each student).

District leaders put the two levies on the ballots after voters rejected a $495 million bond in April 2023 to upgrade schools with 48% in favor while 60% approval was needed because it was a bond measure. Levies need 50% plus one vote approval.

Voters barely approved a six-year Capital Projects and Technology Levy in 2018 with 50.02% in favor to bring in about $146 million over six years. That measure is expiring after bringing in $29 million for 2024.

While voters have defeated capital project measures over the last year, they approved in November 2023 the district’s Replacement of Expiring Educational Programs and Operations Levy, which covers about 15% of the general fund, including monies for athletics, music and arts, which are not funded by the state. The levy also funds special education, advanced learning programs and multilingual education. The state funds most of the rest of the district’s operating budget for basic education.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentnews.us.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://kentnews.us/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

t
Kent firefighters extinguish three separate brush fires on West Hill

Fire breaks out early Friday morning, July 12 in wooded area west of Interstate 5

t
Kent's Project Feast receives $10,000 grant from Jacques Pépin Foundation

Nonprofit offers culinary skills training program for immigrants and refugees

t
Valley SWAT helps arrest Kent man in domestic violence incident

Saturday, July 6 at a West Hill apartment complex

t
Kent Police Blotter: June 26 to July 6

Incidents include shootings, robberies, pursuits

t
Man busted for drugs in Kent receives eight-year prison sentence

Part of drug trafficking ring that brought hundreds of pounds of narcotics to Western Washington

Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO
Judge denies bail reduction, release for man accused of shooting trooper in Kent

Bail remains at $3 million; defense attorney wanted release for drug treatment program

t
King County awards $1.2 million grant to Kent for salmon restoration

Money will be used for projects along the Green River

t
Dragon boat races no longer part of Kent Cornucopia Days

Lack of volunteers, resources leads to dropping of event first featured in 2001

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D) represents the 9th Congressional District, which includes multiple cities in King County. File photo
Congressman Smith weighs in on Supreme Court and Biden

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D) represents Renton, Mercer Island, Tukwila, Des Moines, Federal Way and parts of Seattle, Bellevue, Kent and Auburn.

t
Register for National Night Out event in Kent coming up Aug. 6

Organize neighborhood or community event to help get to know neighbors and prevent crime

t
Kent Police seek $2.25 million mobile command vehicle for major incidents

City applies for federal grant to pay for vehicle to respond to active shooter, mass casualty events

t
Portion of Reith Road in Kent to close for roundabout construction

Detours to be set up during July 9 to Sept. 1 closure at Lake Fenwick Road and South 253rd Street