In 1978, the Washington State legislature passed a levy lid*, which galvanized Bellevue community leaders into action. They knew then what is even more true today—that the world into which their children would graduate is complex; it requires extensive social and emotional, arts and academic education; and will demand wide-ranging employment skills.

These visionaries believed that state-provided dollars would fall short of meeting Bellevue children’s educational needs. They were determined to bridge the gap, so in 1979 the Bellevue Schools Foundation was created as a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3), non-profit organization separate from, but collaborative with, the Bellevue School District.

In the winter of 1987 the board crafted a mission statement: The Bellevue Schools Foundation promotes and helps fund the best possible learning opportunities for all students in the Bellevue School District. The board very much wanted the Foundation to become a Bellevue institution. They knew they needed visibility, more money, and meaningful projects that would resonate with the community.

A relatively early discussion with highly-regarded consultant Ed Schumacher helped the board understand that the foundation was two-headed—that it provided both programs and the fundraising to support them. The board made a significant decision then to maintain equal emphasis on both.

Longtime board member and past president David Schooler explains this key decision: “Programs are our heart, and they justify fundraising. It is hard to do both but this foundation must, and does, do both well.”

Learn about some of the influential past programs and initiatives supported by the Bellevue Schools Foundation.

*From the Washington State publication A Citizen’s Guide to the Washington State K-12 Finance 2011.

What is the levy lid act and why was it passed?

In a major 1978 decision (Seattle School District No. 1 v. State, 585 P.2d 71, 978) interpreting constitutional provisions related to education, among other things, the Washington State Supreme Court found that school districts may use local tax levies to fund enrichment programs and programs outside the legislative definition of basic education. However, the use of local levies cannot reduce the state’s obligation to fund basic education.

At the same time that the Legislature defined and took on responsibility for fully funding a basic education program, they passed the Levy Lid Act. The act limits the amount of revenue that a school district can raise through maintenance and operation (M & O) levies. While local levy revenues made up 32 percent of total school district revenues prior to the levy failures of 1975 that precipitated the 1977 school funding lawsuit, they fell to less than 10 percent of total school district revenues after the enactment of the Levy Lid Act. Since that time, the Legislature has made various changes to the Levy Lid Act ultimately increasing school districts’ ability to raise levy revenues.

Currently, 205 of the 295 school districts have a levy lid of 28 percent, which was increased in the 2010 Legislative session from 24 percent. This means that revenue raised from local tax levies cannot exceed 28 percent of the district’s state and federal revenues (with other technical adjustments to that base). The other 90 school districts have a levy lid ranging from 28.01 percent to 37.90 percent. These 90 districts have higher levy lid authority because, at the time the Levy Lid Act was passed, these districts raised a higher amount of their revenues through M & O levies. (Bellevue was grandfathered in and our maximum levy lid is 34.66%).

The exceptional people who have invested their time, energy and wisdom as presidents of the Bellevue Schools Foundation board include the following:

Foundation Board President

1978–82 Jim Wellman
1982–85 Lynn Geri
1985–87 Chuck Ketteman
1987–89 Ann Lukens
1989–90 David Schooler
1991–92 Jonelle Adams
1992–93 Kermit Anderson
1993–94 Jan Tanaka
1994–95 Kristen Webb
1995–96 Ross McIvor
1996–98 Rob McKenna
1998–99 Judd Lees
1999–00 Janine Florence
2000–01 Jane Ewing
2001–02 Jim Boudreau
2002–03 Sharon Linton
2003–04 Lew White
2004–05 Rod Johnson
2005–06 Paul Bogel
2006–07 Susann Edmond
2007–08 Rob Lowe
2008–09 Laurel Preston
2009–10 Betsy Johnson
2010–11 Jeff Hansen
2011–12 Sara Schmidt
2012–13 Trudi Jackson
2013–14 Bill Pollard
2014–15 Bill DeJarlais
2015-16 Connie Peterson
2016-17 Mark Littrell
2017-18 Lynn Janata Tremblay
2018-19 John Seethoff
2019-20 Arthur Emery