Seattle Public Schools

BTA V Capital Levy


Frequently Asked Questions about BTA V

This page includes frequently asked questions, with answers, about the Buildings, Technology, and Academics/Athletics V Capital Levy (BTA V). This levy will be on the ballot in February 2022 along with the Educational Programs and Operations Levy (EP&O).

Levy Amount

How much will the BTA V levy cost?

If approved, BTA V would raise $783 million over six years.

  • This would result in taxes of about 47 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2023, the first year it would be collected.
  • The tax rate typically goes down in future years because the value of Seattle homes goes up.
    • Estimated rate in 2024: 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value
    • Estimated rate in 2025: 44 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value

Why is BTA V more than BTA IV was?

It costs more for construction and materials now than in 2016, and the amount of funding included for technology is twice as much as in the previous levy. This is also the first time that critical maintenance could be included in a capital levy.

The levy rate per $1,000 of assessed value is just 4 cents more than the levy amount when voters approved BTA IV in 2016.

Why is funding for technology higher in this levy than it was in earlier levies?

This is mostly because SPS distributed laptop computers to every student and teacher during the pandemic. The additional devices increase costs of not only equipment, but also of support, infrastructure like wi-fi, and software. The state doesn’t provide much funding for technology, so the capital levy provides most funding for technology in SPS.

Clean Energy

How does BTA V support the district’s commitment to clean energy?

If approved, BTA V:

  • Provides $12 million for clean energy projects that will be recommended by the Clean Energy Task Force.
  • Provides $79.6 million to continue existing capital levy-funded work to improve energy efficiency and resource conservation in our schools.
    • LED and other highly efficient light sources with controlled use such as timers and occupancy sensors ($8.4 million)
    • More energy-efficient HVAC equipment that can be centrally monitored and controlled ($36.8 million)
    • Funding for the retro-commissioning team that conducts building tune ups to ensure building systems are working as efficiently as possible ($3 million)
    • Windows, doors, roofs, and insulation upgrades or replacement ($31.4 million)

Project Selection

How were projects selected?

  • SPS receives a consultant report on the condition of school buildings
  • Consultants also develop cost estimates
  • Based on the condition scores, SPS assigns a priority level to each project
  • Refine the list using Board policy and Board Guiding Principles for BTA V, which include using an equity lens
  • Identify technology needs based on Guiding Principles, SPS technology plan, and requirements prioritized in partnership with the Information Technology Advisory Committee (ITAC).
  • Recommendation to School Board — Priority 1 projects


Why aren’t there any school renovations or replacements included in BTA V?

BTA levies focus on small renovations, major maintenance, and improvement projects in school buildings for the buildings part of the levy.

SPS has another capital levy, Building Excellence (BEX), that includes major school renovations and replacements. The next BEX levy is expected to be on the ballot in 2025.

What are retro-commissioning personnel?

These are the staff members who form the Building Tune-Up Team. They regularly test and fix (or make sure a specialist fixes) all equipment and systems in SPS schools to ensure they are running efficiently.

What are those other items that are included in BTA V Buildings section that aren’t specific projects?

These are other costs and projects that are allowed to be funded by capital levies.

Recurring Equipment and Planning Costs

  • Maintenance equipment for facilities staff to use in maintaining schools
  • Grounds equipment for grounds staff to use in maintaining school grounds
  • Food service equipment for culinary services staff to use in preparing and serving student meals
  • Building and site security equipment includes alarms, fencing, cameras, and other security tools that arise
  • Electrification of vehicle fleet will help cover costs to move SPS’s district trucks, vans, and cars to electric vehicles including installing the charging stations needed for those types of vehicles
  • Short and intermediate capacity/portable management pays for costs associated with moving or adding portables when schools need more classroom space
  • Move/BEX VI Levy Planning costs:
    • Move costs include paying to move school communities to interim sites and back during construction, to move equipment and materials from classrooms in preparation for construction work, and then back, and for unpacking and setting up new classroom and school fixtures and furniture.
    • Levy planning costs include studies of building conditions, master planning, cost estimates for construction projects, the SEPA process, levies information development and communication, and all other costs associated with planning a levy and placing it on the ballot.

Major Preventative and Critical Maintenance

  • Facilities staff and materials for maintenance of schools and other facilities.

Management and Staffing

  • Covers the costs of running the district capital programs, including paying staff and providing benefits.

Debt service

  • The last payment on the purchase and renovation of the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence.

Memorial Stadium

Does SPS own Memorial Stadium?

Yes. SPS owns and operates the stadium.

Why do the stands at Memorial Stadium need to be replaced?

  • The grandstands were built more than 70 years ago — replacements are needed so the stadium can continue to be used for high school athletics, for graduations, and by the community. 
  • Building systems (foundation, roof, walls, windows, doors, electrical, heating and ventilation, lighting) are in unsatisfactory or poor condition.
  • Seismic upgrades needed to improve earthquake safety will likely require demolition and replacement of stands

Why do you need to do the other work that is included in the levy for Memorial Stadium?

  • The synthetic turf field needs replacement (end-of-life on normal replacement schedule) to keep it usable by our high school athletic teams
  • Field lighting upgrades will supply more energy-efficient lighting, less off-site light impacts, and better lighting control

Is Memorial Stadium a city landmark?

  • Memorial Stadium has not been designated at landmark by the Seattle Landmarks Board. SPS nominates all district buildings older than 25 years to be considered for landmark status when a project begins.

What will happen to the Memorial Wall if you replace the stadium?

  • The Memorial Wall would be preserved.

How does the agreement between the City of Seattle and SPS fit in with replacement of Memorial Stadium?

  • As the owner of the stadium, SPS is planning replacement if voters approve the BTA V capital levy in February 2022. The replacement would be a stadium that is similar to stadiums at other school districts and would continue to meet SPS needs for athletics and district events.
  • The letter of intent means that if the BTA V levy is approved by voters, the City may partner with us to provide a venue that can be used for other purposes when SPS isn’t using it. SPS would continue to own the stadium.


What does the Technology funding include?

Capital levies pay for 85% of the district’s technology department budget, including software and licenses, equipment, staffing, and technology infrastructure.

  • Student Learning and Support: such as computers for students and teachers, classroom audio/visual equipment, and digital equity support
  • Infrastructure: includes cybersecurity, data centers, networks including wi-fi in schools, security, and telephone equipment and service.
  • District Systems: includes equipment, software, and licenses for systems such as accounting, human resources, project management, and student/parent tools such as PowerSchool and The Source.

The levy also includes funding for technology professional development for teachers and staff.


What are Special Education Program Modifications and Program Placement?

These are funds set aside for changes that might need to be made to school buildings to meet the needs of a student receiving special education services. Program placement dollars are used if building modifications need to be made for a change in school programs. 

What kind of projects are included in art equipment and science equipment?

Science includes adding or upgrading science classrooms/science labs. Arts projects include stagecraft equipment such as rigging, lighting, and curtains; band or choir room acoustical treatments; and replacing kilns.

Will improvements to school sites and playgrounds include adding more green areas?

We are aware that green spaces have a positive impact on education programs. Playgrounds are on a 15-year upgrade cycle. As we evaluate them, we look for areas where asphalt can be removed.

  • Removing asphalt helps reduce our stormwater costs.
  • Reducing asphalt and supplying more vegetation will help reduce heat islands.

What is the $5 million under Athletic Fields & Field Exterior Lights & Equipment for Lincoln High School?

The funding is for development of an athletic field for use by Lincoln High School. SPS is exploring all options for development of an athletic field, including the purchase of property near Lincoln High School for use as an athletic field. While SPS has had some early conversations with Seattle Parks and Recreation about options, no proposals have been made for use of city parks.

Can you convert Wallingford Park into an artificial turf athletic field for Lincoln High School and Hamilton International Middle School?

No proposals have been made to convert Wallingford Park. The park property is owned by the city of Seattle and is operated by Seattle Parks & Recreation.