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Originally published November 7, 2012 at 9:01 PM | Page modified November 8, 2012 at 9:41 AM

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Seattle Schools will ask voters for $1.25B in February

The Seattle School Board voted to place two levies on the February ballot, asking voters for a record $1.25 billion over six years.

Seattle Times education reporter

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With unanimous support Wednesday, the Seattle School Board officially decided to place two levies on the February ballot, which together would cost voters $1.25 billion over six years.

The bigger of the two is a $695 million levy for school construction. If passed, it would allow the district to build, remodel or expand 13 schools to ease overcrowding and update aging buildings.

The district also wants the money to improve technology, provide wireless for every school, update middle-school science labs, and improve earthquake protection at 37 buildings.

The second measure is a $552 million, three-year operations levy that would replace an existing levy that provides about 27 percent of the district's annual budget.

Together, the two levies are the district's largest request ever. If both were to pass, they would cost the owners of a $400,000 house $135 to $160 more each year than the roughly $1,000 they now pay in school taxes.

District leaders stress that the levies would do more dollar-for-dollar than past levies have. For example, plans call for building flexibility into a number of projects so they could be used as elementary, K-8 or middle schools.

In one last-minute tweak, the School Board pledged to look for ways to avoid building a second school on the same site as Thornton Creek Elementary in northeast Seattle, and find other ways to ease overcrowding in that area.

Neighbors collected 850 signatures opposing the two-schools-on-one-site plan, saying the second school would take away much needed open space and force many sports teams to find other places to play.

Students from Rainier Beach High also are lobbying to add their school to the list. They held a protest rally Tuesday, saying every high school except theirs has had a major remodel.

Linda Shaw: 206-464-2359 or lshaw@seattletimes.com

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