Joined by education advocates, City Councilmembers, and community leaders, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced her Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise plan to nearly double the children in preschool, increase investments in K-12, and expand access to college through the Seattle Promise College Tuition Program. With both the 2011 Families & Education Levy and 2014 Seattle Preschool Program Levy set to expire this year, Mayor Durkan is proposing the City renews and combines them through a new Families, Education, Preschool and Promise plan. You can view the full action plan and budget here.
“Working together, we can take a major step towards closing the opportunity gap in our City, putting our young people on a path to good-paying jobs, and creating a more affordable future for our City’s children. These investments in quality preschool, K-12 education, and college will build true economic opportunity for our young people,” said Mayor Durkan. “This proposal will also be the first to have built-in relief for the most vulnerable taxpayers in our city, including veterans, disabled and the elderly. To truly build equity, we must work to reduce the impact on those who are the most impacted.”
As proposed, Mayor Durkan’s plan would make seven years of investments to:
- Continue the successful pilot of the Seattle Preschool program and nearly double the number of children in quality preschool from 1,500 in 2018-19 to 2,700 in 2025-26;
- Increase K-12 and community investments to close the opportunity gap, increase teacher diversity, provide support services including for students experiencing homelessness, and help students most at risk of dropping out of school;
- Expand access to college for Seattle public school graduates through support for the Seattle Promise College Tuition Program, which would serve approximately 1,350 high school students participating in college prep and 875 Seattle Promise college students each year.
“Mayor Durkan’s plan marks the future of our City’s investments in education to close the opportunity gap and make sure Seattle’s children are prepared for the jobs of the future,” said Dwane Chappelle, Director of our City’s Department of Education and Early Learning and former Rainier Beach High School principal. “One of the best solutions we have to prevent the opportunity gap is investing in high quality preschool. In the Seattle Preschool Program, we’ve seen our children of color make the greatest gains. We must give more kids this opportunity to enter kindergarten prepared to succeed. Once we give our kids the great start they deserve in kindergarten, we can invest in K-12 education to address the opportunity gap, then ensure all our kids can take advantage of Seattle Promise.”
“This is an important first step towards fulfilling our commitment to make sure that all kiddos – from birth through post-secondary graduation, college or apprenticeship – have programs and resources to meet their needs. I’m especially excited to work with fellow councilmembers to enhance and solidify our investments in infants and toddlers and to make sure we have a diverse and well-trained workforce to help support our children – it’s good for kids, good for teachers, and good for our local economy,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide).
“Research affirms that investing in early learning is not only a cost-effective strategy, but one that prepares more of our kids to thrive inside and outside the classroom. I am happy to see the Mayor’s action plan reflect these critical early learning investments, specifically in the growth of our Seattle Preschool Program, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on shepherding this set of investments through the Council process,” said Councilmember Rob Johnson (District 4, Northeast Seattle).
“The opportunity and kindergarten readiness gap affects all students but especially students of color, low-income students, English Language Learners, students with learning disabilities, and students experiencing homelessness. The City of Seattle plays a historically significant role in supporting our public school system to help each child fulfill their potential. Our more recent investments in early learning have shown that quality pre-school and wrap around services are an essential part of the education pipeline,” said Councilmember M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide). “Over the next several weeks, I will work with the community, educators, the school district, Mayor Durkan and the City Council to continue our investments in evidence-based education strategies, while also identifying ways to respond to emerging issues, like the rapid growth of students experiencing homelessness.”
“We’ve accomplished a lot with our education levies, but let’s set our Seattle students up for the best possible future by expanding access to pre-school and higher education opportunities. By boosting the bookends of a young person’s K-12 education with additional learning, we will prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow, contribute an educated workforce, and grow our economy. These investments will also help us narrow the gap in educational outcomes experienced by students of color and those from low-income areas,” said Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle).
Under Mayor Durkan’s plan, homeowners of a median assessed value property ($665,000 in 2019) would pay approximately $20.75 a month or $249 a year. For the first time, qualified low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans with a service-connected disability will be eligible for an exemption.