While the Feb. 13 special election results won’t be certified until Feb. 23, the passage of the Federal Way Public Schools replacement education programs and operations levy is almost a certainty.
According to the King County Elections website, as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the $33 million EP&O levy was passing with 9,834 votes in favor, or 57.54 percent, and 7,257 opposed, or 42.46 percent, building off of Tuesday’s lead.
The mood was celebratory at an elections gathering hosted by the Citizens for Federal Way Schools Tuesday evening at Billy McHale’s in Federal Way Tuesday. School district administrators, staff and supporters cheered after the results were announced to the crowd.
After the initial cheers had subsided, Superintendent Tammy Campbell thanked everyone involved in the effort.
“None of this happened without citizens coming together,” she said.
Campbell said the supporters who stood out on corners and waved signs and the staff who dedicated a lot of time to spread the message and inform residents were instrumental in the levy passing.
“I want to thank you,” she said. “We could not have done it without this team.”
Campbell said, going into the evening she was feeling nervous about the levy passing because a lot was at stake.
The four-year levy will fund staff, programs and operations beyond what the state provides for basic education. The $33 million the levy will generate each year makes up 10 percent of the district’s budget and pays for teaching, nursing and security officer positions, as well as educational services, including special education and English language learner programs, and extracurricular activities, such as athletics and music.
“You can’t go into this taking anything for granted when you’re talking about 300 jobs on the line. That was my thought,” Campbell said.
After the initial results were released, however, Campbell’s anxiety turned to relief. She said she was relieved that programs and staff supporting for students won’t have to be cut.
“[I’m] relieved that we can continue to do the work we’ve been focusing on doing,” she said.
The EP&O levy is not new but replaces an expiring one that voters have approved since 1980. The levy also will only allow the school district to maintain current programs and staffing level. It will not result in an increase of staffing or programs. With the levy’s passage, residents will pay $1.50 per $1,000 assessed value.
Campbell said that the majority of Federal Way voters supported the EP&O levy just months after approving a $450 million facilities bond shows they believe in the future of the district’s students and support the school district’s goals. In turn, she said the district’s teachers, administrators and other staff are committed to ensuring every student has the opportunity to learn.
“Are we perfect? No. Do we have all the answers? No. But we’re not going to waver in our focus that every child has success,” Campbell said.
Federal Way Public Schools Board President Claire Wilson also thanked the voters for their support of scholars and the district. She said, while she knew what was as stake with the levy vote, she was confident Federal Way Public Schools residents would continue to support the students in the district and provide them with the resources to receive a good education.
“Our community knows that strong schools build a strong community, and that voice was heard tonight, and I’m just thrilled we didn’t let our scholars down,” Wilson said.
Go to kingcounty.gov/depts.elections for the updates on the levy and other election results.