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Seattle voters approving $600 million education levy

(AP Photo)

In early election results, voters in Seattle have largely approved a $600 million education levy.

The levy, leading 69 percent to 31 percent on Tuesday night, covers multiple education programs in the city, including subsidized preschool.

Check local election results

The subsidized preschool program was approved as a four-year, $58 million pilot, in 2014, with a goal of eventually getting every kid in the city — regardless of income level — access to early learning.

The city wants to extend and expand the program to more than double the number of kids to 2,500 by 2026.

Mayor Jenny Durkan, who has championed free college and the expansion of affordable preschool in Seattle, issued a statement Tuesday night and celebrated the victory on Wednesday.

“Tonight, we celebrate a victory for opportunity for kids and families across Seattle, and a victory for a more affordable future.

“Tonight, we said loud and clear we believe that every young person in Seattle deserves the chance to succeed – and we will support them from preschool through college.

“Tonight, Seattle voters again affirmed that every child has a future in Seattle. And we renewed our promise to Seattle’s kids: If you do our part, we’ll do ours.

“I am so grateful to the people of Seattle for making this investment in our young people and opening doors to opportunity. And I cannot thank the volunteers, supporters, and advocates enough for their hard work to build opportunity in Seattle.

“Now, we must work together to continue closing the opportunity gap, putting more young people on a path to good-paying jobs, and creating a more affordable future for our children.

“Thank you, Seattle.”

The current levy that pays for the preschool program expires at the end of the year, as does the Families Education levy, which pays for K-12 programs like family support and after-school programs, as well as school-based health centers.

Prop. 1 combines those two expiring levies, and also includes money to launch the mayor’s college promise program, covering two years of community college, or the equivalent for all Seattle graduates.

A study by National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University and Cultivate Learning at the University of Washington found that the preschool program in Seattle is one of the best in the nation and benefits students.

“The evaluation finds that SPP quality has steadily continued to improve and quality now exceeds that in some major city and state early childhood programs,” said Milagros Nores, Ph.D., NIEER Co-Director for Research and lead author. “Children in SPP made gains in all measured domains, including language, literacy and mathematics.”

Seattle Superintendent Denise Juneau thanked voters Tuesday night:

“Thank you to the voters of Seattle for passing the City’s Families, Education, Preschools and Promise Levy! Your support of the City’s levy will help Seattle Public Schools continue to provide the best education possible for all students. I look forward to our continued partnership with the City as we work to increase student achievement, collaborate with our families, and move SPS to new heights.”

KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott contributed to this report.

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