Seattle schools benefit from passage of levies

On behalf of the nearly 50,000 students at Seattle Public Schools, thank you.

Seattle voters have shown overwhelming support for the renewal of both the Operations Levy and the Capital Levy. Because of these levies, our students will have safe, high-quality classrooms and buildings, and our schools will receive critical funds for our day-to-day operations.

Additionally, we will be able to meet the needs of our growing enrollment, which is projected to increase by more than 7,000 students in the next decade. The committed support and collaboration of our entire community means we can continue to provide positive learning environments that help our students succeed.

As I work toward completing my first year as superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, I am humbled by the support this community has shown for its students. As of Thursday evening (Feb. 14), with 75-percent support for the Operations Levy and 72-percent support for the six-year Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy, we know this community understands the importance of a strong public-school system. 

I want to stress that we do not take this trust lightly. We are committed to using levy funds efficiently and effectively to address the needs of all Seattle Public Schools families. Our district will hold itself to a high degree of accountability, transparency and stewardship of these tax dollars. 

The BEX IV funds will replace, modernize and expand 17 schools, and 37 schools will receive earthquake safety upgrades. All schools will receive wireless Internet, and 19 schools will have integrated security-camera systems installed. 

The Operations Levy will provide more than 25 percent of the Seattle Public Schools’ operating revenue and will help pay for additional teachers, textbooks, classroom supplies, transportation, security and student activities, such as athletics and music. This important levy supports educational programs not fully funded by the state.

While we are beginning work on these improvements immediately, we also acknowledge that it takes time to build and upgrade facilities. I am asking for your understanding as we address short-term capacity-management issues in our buildings through temporary measures, including creative use of classroom space and the addition of portables at some schools. I want to thank in advance our principals, teachers, students and families for their ongoing flexibility and patience as we work through the challenges presented by our increasing enrollment.

A successful Capital Levy package could not have been developed without the input of our staff, School Board and communities through multiple community and district meetings. I would like to express my gratitude to our Capital staff for their incredible efforts to make sure this was an open process. Additionally, I want to thank the members of the Facilities and Capital Management Advisory Committee (FACMAC) and BEX Oversight Committee for their tireless work over the past year. 

I also want to acknowledge all of the incredible volunteers — parents, students, labor partners and community members — who spent time making calls, putting up signs and telling their neighbors and friends about the importance of these two levies. It is your work that supports the success of our students. 

Finally, I want to extend a sincere thank you to the Schools First organization for coordinating efforts to support our levies.

In closing, I want to reiterate my heartfelt appreciation for the level of support Seattle gives to our public schools. Thank you, Seattle voters, for your investment in our children and their future. This is an amazing city, and I’m proud to be a part of this community. I look forward to our continued work together in support of all students.

José Banda

Superintendent, Seattle Public Schools


Map for Stairways story would have been helpful

Nice stair article (“Walking the Walks: Stairway Walks Day Brings Attention to Seattle’s Historical Stairways,” Jan. 30). A map showing the location within Queen Anne/Magnolia of the stairs would have made it a great article — the kind you clip and put on the refrigerator. 

Todd Lawson

Queen Anne


Working Orca card readers would make commuting faster

[Regarding “How Rapid is the Ride?” Nov. 28, 2012:] What would help is getting Orca card readers installed and working at most of the stops. The Third Avenue stops can’t yet because there is no fiber-optic Internet laid on that block, but it will get laid when they finally fix that block up.

But the readers on Mercer Street are out of order — that is totally unacceptable, being Metro had years to plan this rollout!

Eric Hutcheson



Academy snubbed Affleck, deserving films

[Regarding “Ben Affleck is the Story of This Year’s Oscar Race,” Feb. 20:] Such lackluster choices are very unbecoming of such a tremendous year for cinema. Where are the nominations for movies like “The Grey,” “Jesus Henry Christ” and “Killing Them Softly”? 

Read about the Top 10 Movies of 2012, with reviews and other honorable mentions at

Brandt Hardin

Clarksville, Tenn.


The truth of this year is that Ben Affleck is the story of the awards season, and deservedly so. It is also a truth that the Academy [of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences] made a huge blunder, and now whoever wins best director will be second place — no way around it. They will have the Oscar and nothing else because Ben Affleck has swept them all. 

Good for him: He produced the best film of the season and accepted the snub by the Academy with grace and humility. He may be and probably is horribly disappointed and even ticked-off but has kept it completely hidden. 

Well done, Mr. Affleck!

Alice Johnson

San Angelo, Texas