Mayor proposes Department of Education and Early Learning


As parents ready their kids for the first week of school, Mayor Ed Murray today unveiled his plan to reorganize of the city’s education and support programs into a new Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL), the first of several proposals the mayor will make in his first city budget.

The new structure will enable the city to better coordinate existing work and resources on behalf of students of all ages, improve collaboration with Seattle Public Schools, colleges and child-care providers, and increase performance measurement of the city’s work to support educational outcomes.

“Equity in education is the foundation of our democracy and the future of our city,” said Murray. “The City already supports programs across the continuum from birth through college, but we must do better to align resources for better outcomes for education. We will sharpen our focus on achieving great outcomes for all, so that none of Seattle’s students are left behind. We want Seattle to be the first city in America that eliminates the achievement gap.”

Economic disparities contribute to a persistent achievement gap here, as it does across the nation, between the educational attainment of students of color and white students:

  • 90 percent of white 4th graders are reading at grade level compared to 56 percent of African American students.
  • One third of African American and Latino students—and half of American Indian students—don’t graduate on time, compared to 14 percent of white students.

Research has shown that students with higher educational attainment have higher average earning power over a career, but also live healthier lives.

“All of Seattle’s children must have the same opportunity to succeed in school and in life,” said Brianna Jackson, Executive Director of the Community Day School Association. “By improving coordination across the entire system, from Early Learning to our universities, and by working together as an education community, we know we can achieve better outcomes for all students.”

Last fall, the City Council adopted a budget action asking the mayor to develop a proposal to elevate the city’s emphasis around education. The council voiced interest in aligning the city’s education and early learning programs, preparing for a universal preschool program, and improving collaboration with the school district.

“Twenty babies are born in Seattle each day and each one deserves a strong and fair start,” said City Council President Tim Burgess.  “We know that high quality education empowers children of all backgrounds to lead healthier and happier lives and their success makes our city stronger.  To enable our cradle to career programs to work better, the Council called for the creation of this Department and I applaud the Mayor and his team for doing the hard work to get the job done.”

For the last several months, the Murray Administration has been working to shape the new department responsible for supporting early learning, K-12 and higher education in Seattle. Most of the positions in the new department would be filled by existing city employees moving from Seattle’s Human Services Department, Office for Education and other organizations. Existing functions consolidated into DEEL will include:

  • Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, Comprehensive Child Care Program and other early learning services and initiatives
  • Elementary, Middle School, and High School academic and social support programs
  • School-based health services operated by the city
  • Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative
  • All Families and Education Levy programs

Nine new positions would be created to step up coordination with area colleges and universities, ensure the quality of city child care programs and pre-schools, and increase data collection to track the effectiveness of the department’s activities.

“We look forward to working with the Mayor and the new Department of Education and Early Learning to partner on behalf of our Seattle students,” said Dr. Larry Nyland, Interim Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. “As we head back to school tomorrow, our teachers, principals and staff are getting ready to ensure every student has the opportunity to graduate prepared for college, career and life. We cannot do this work alone. We are pleased the city will partner with us to meet our goals for student success.”

The new department would house 38 employees and manage a budget of $48.5 million, including $30 million each year from the voter-approved Families and Education Levy.

The mayor’s proposal will be included in his budget submission to the City Council on Sept. 22nd.

Next ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk set for Lake City neighborhood Aug. 25

Find It Fix It Community Walk - Rainier Beach

Mayor Ed Murray’s ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk, focused on several crime hotspots, makes its way to a sixth neighborhood in Seattle on Monday, Aug. 25.

At the walks, community residents, police, and city officials walk together to identify physical disorder and solve it. As a result of these walks, Seattle City Light, the Seattle Department of Transportation, the Department of Planning and Development, and Seattle Public Utilities have worked – and continue to work – to make improvements in Seattle’s neighborhoods. Watch videos, view photos and read actions taken as a result of these walks at:

The next Find It, Fix It Community Walk
Monday, Aug. 25, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
NE 125th & 30th St NE
Meet at the Lake City Mini Park (Map)

7 – 7:15 p.m.

Short program featuring Mayor Ed Murray, City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Sen. David Frockt, Seattle Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole, and department representatives.

7:15 – 8:30 p.m.

Walk commences along the following route:

  • Head East on on NE 125th
  • North on 33rd Ave NE
  • West on NE 130th St
  • South on 30th Ave NE
  • West on NE 127th St
  • South on 28th Ave NE
  • East on NE 125th St

8:30 p.m.

Walk concludes and department representatives are available for follow-up questions.

Future ‘Find It, Fix It’ walks will be held on Sept. 11th in the International District and on Sept. 17th on Capitol Hill.

For more information on Murray’s public safety strategy for Seattle, visit

Mayor Murray statement on the latest charging of Ali Muhammad Brown

Mayor Murray today issued the following statement in the wake of the latest charges filed against Ali Muhammad Brown:

“Today, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed additional charges against Ali Muhammad Brown, the man charged with the murder of Ahmed Said and Dwone Anderson-Young in Leschi on June 1, 2014. Today, Brown was also charged with the murder of Leroy Henderson in Skyway on April 27.

Ali Muhammad Brown took the lives of three members of our community, and, with these charges, he will face justice.

The charging documents reveal disturbing details about Brown’s motive for committing these murders, which appears to have based on anti-American sentiment and an extreme interpretation of the Muslim faith. While Brown invoked his faith, we must be clear that Brown’s views and his actions do not reflect the values of Muslims.

In this moment of grief, we, as one community, across all faiths and religions races and ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations, can and must renew our resolve to stand firm against violence and hatred of all kinds.”

Mayor Murray details implementation plans for Parks District, thanks Acting Superintendent for his service

Christopher Williams

Mayor Murray today thanked Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the past four years, who is stepping down to the role of Deputy Superintendent. Williams is returning to his previous role with the department as he manages some personal health issues.

“I want to thank Christopher for his dedication and service to Seattle Parks and Recreation and the people of Seattle over the last four years as Acting Superintendent, and for many years before that in other capacities with the department,” added Murray. “Under his leadership, the department has successfully weathered significant budget reductions as the result of the Great Recession, including both service and staffing cuts. Seattle’s park system will benefit from Christopher’s work for years to come.”

The Mayor will conduct a national search to find a new leader for the Parks and Recreation Department. The search is underway and will be completed by January of 2015.

The Mayor also detailed plans for implementation of the Seattle Parks District approved by voters on Aug. 5.

“I want to commend voters once again on passage of the Seattle Parks District,” said Murray. “We have already started work on establishing strong accountability standards, including accounting and financial oversight for these resources. Also, a new ‘results team’ will develop performance management tools so that we can track and measure our success. I look forward to working with the City Council on these issues.”

The Seattle City Council will serve as the governing Park District Board. The Board will meet this fall to adopt an inter-local agreement that details charter and bylaws and appoint a Community Oversight Committee.

The Oversight Committee will have 15 members: four Park Board members; seven members, one from each Council district; and four additional members to be considered for appointment based on recommendations from City commissions, including the Immigrant and Refugee Commission, the Commission for People with Disabilities, the Human Rights Commission, the Seattle Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Commission, and the Women’s Commission. All appointments will be confirmed by the City Council and the Mayor will appoint the Chair of the Oversight Committee.

The Oversight Committee will provide advice on spending and activities including:

  • Establishing an application process for an annual allocation of Major Project Challenge Funds;
  • Reviewing an annual report prepared by Seattle Parks and Recreation for the Seattle Park District and the City, including assessment of performance measures and expenditure of District funds;
  • Holding public meetings and making recommendations to the Superintendent in connection with each 6-year update to the spending plan, and
  • Providing to the Mayor, City Council, and Superintendent of Parks and Recreation an annual report on the progress of expenditures, a mid-term report half-way through each six-year period, and a final report in advance of each 6-year update to the spending plan.

Information about the spending plan for the Park District is available at this website.

Video from the press conference

Murray announces communications staff changes

Mayor Murray today announced his appointment of Jason Kelly to serve as Press Secretary in the Mayor’s Office.

Kelly served most recently as Strategic Communications Manager for the Port of Seattle. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Juliette, and their two children, Gavin and Fiona.

Prior to moving to Seattle, he worked in several communications positions in Olympia, including in the Office of Gov. Chris Gregoire, the State Department of Agriculture, the State Senate, the State School Directors’ Association and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

His recent community service includes terms on the Board of Directors of Parent Trust for Washington Children and the Board of Trustees of the Griffin School Foundation. He frequently volunteers as a youth sports coach.

Kelly began his career in public service in Washington, DC, first with U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone and then Rep. David Minge, both Members of Congress from his native state of Minnesota.

Kelly received a B.A. in history from the University of Minnesota.

His first day in the Mayor’s Office is Aug. 20th and his salary is $100,000 annually. Megan Coppersmith, who has served as Acting Press Secretary in the Mayor’s Office since March, returns to her permanent role as Public Information Advisor for the City’s Department of Information Technology.

Additionally, Mike Gore has been promoted to the position of Deputy Press Secretary from his former role of Correspondence Manager.

Gore, a Seattle native, recently graduated with a degree in journalism from Western Washington University. Gore interned at The White House Office of Communications and at The Stranger while in school, as well as serving in the role of Daily Managing Editor at Western’s award-winning student newspaper, The Western Front.

Gore’s salary is $62,640 annually.

Mayor Murray releases recommendations to double enrollment in Seattle’s Utility Discount Program

UDP presser

Mayor Murray today provided an update on the City of Seattle’s efforts to promote affordability by increasing enrollment in the Utility Discount Program.

“It’s extremely important that Seattle remain inclusive and affordable for people all across the income spectrum,” said Murray. “Increasing enrollment in the Utility Discount Program is another critical step we are taking on the road to making Seattle affordable for everyone who wants to live here.”

Recently approved by the City Council, the Seattle City Light (SCL) and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) strategic business plans address affordability by setting stable rate increases, thereby controlling costs for customers. SCL’s rate increases have averaged almost 7 percent over the past 5 years and will now be held to 4.4 percent per year. SPU’s rate increases, which have averaged almost 7 percent annually over the past 10 years, will now be held at 4.6 percent per year. Find graphs of these changes here.

Both strategic plans also include the goal of doubling enrollment of the city’s Utility Discount Program by 2018, a goal announced by Murray in January.

Seattle has one of the strongest utility discount programs in the country; however, of the estimated 72,000 Seattle residents who qualify for this important program, only 14,000 were enrolled at the beginning of the year. Faced with this information, Murray put together an interdepartmental team to strengthen the program. Read the report here.

“Each month Solid Ground serves thousands of families who must make tough choices between paying their rent and paying their utility bills. Increased utility rate assistance is critical for Seattle’s working families who are at risk of being priced out. Solid Ground applauds the mayor’s call to expand the Utility Discount Program and looks forward to continued efforts to keep Seattle affordable and inclusive,” said Gordon McHenry, president and CEO of Solid Ground.

Since January 2014, the Utility Discount Program has made a concerted effort to raise enrollment by running direct mail marketing campaigns and coupling their efforts with other services and service providers, such as auto-enrolling customers who are participating in SPU’s Emergency Assistance Program and allowing affordable housing providers to enroll new and current tenants. Changes in the program also allow for customers to remain enrolled when they move. These changes have led to a 12 percent increase in enrollment through June 2014.

Additional changes are on the horizon the Utility Discount Program, including creating a single online point of entry for consumers, an online application process, auto-enrolling qualifying subsidized housing units; integrating Utility Discount Program with Seattle Financial Empowerment Centers, aligning eligibility thresholds and benefit across both utilities, lessening documentation requirements, extending the recertification time from 18 months to 2 years, and including the utility discount program benefit on monthly billing statements.

“The recommendations for streamlining enrollment in the Utility Discount Program will undoubtedly make the program more accessible, enabling the City to help more Seattle residents,” said Steve Daschle, Co-Chair of the Seattle Human Services Coalition.

For more information, visit

Video from the press conference:

Mayor Murray provides an update on the Barton foreclosure situation

Mayor Murray today released the following statement about the Barton foreclosure situation:

“Three weeks ago I directed the Seattle Police Department to stand down from removing the Bartons from their home out of concern for the circumstances of the family, and because it wasn’t clear that all options had been explored for connecting the Bartons to services available to them.

Representatives from the City’s Office of Housing as well as the Human Services Department have been in almost daily contact with the Bartons ever since, presenting the family with an array of health and human services for which they may be eligible at the city, county, state and federal levels. To date, the Bartons, however, have not pursued any of these options while choosing to remain in the home.”

I want to add that, during these site visits, staff – who are mandatory reporters – observed conditions inside the residence that required them to submit reports to Adult Protective Services.

I also said three weeks ago that the City would comply with any order from the court to proceed with the eviction, should it come to that.

Today, the judge decided that SPD acted properly in exercising its discretion over the past three weeks. The judge also ruled that the responsibility to execute any court order to remove the Bartons lies with King County. Triangle Properties now has the option to seek a writ against the King County Sheriff’s Office to proceed with the eviction.”

Mayor Murray weighs in on Council immigration resolution

Mayor Murray today added his voice to the national dialogue about our existing immigration laws, a dialogue also taken up this week by the Seattle City Council.

“I strongly support the resolution approved today by the Council,” said Murray. “We are a nation – and Seattle is a city – built by immigrants. I am committed to preserving our tradition as a welcoming community that embraces all of our residents regardless of their status or how they arrived. The President must take action to stop the historic numbers of deportations that are devastating families and causing workers and employers to operate under fear and uncertainty.”

Murray also addressed the growing refugee crisis at our borders, which made local headlines in mid-July with reports of approximately 600 unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America expected at Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) because they lacked sponsors inside the country to host them as they move through our country’s immigration system. Last week, state and federal officials announced that sponsors within the community and shelters in other states have the capacity to meet current needs need, and that no unaccompanied refugee children would be hosted at JBLM at this time.

“On behalf of the City of Seattle, I want to thank the sponsors and foster parents in our city and across the state who have opened their homes to care for the 211 refugee children until they have their claims heard in court – they reflect the best of our city, our state and our country,” said Murray. “And, as Mayor of Seattle, I also believe our City government has a strong moral and leadership imperative to address this humanitarian crisis. So I am directing City departments to work with our community partners to identify what we can do together should the current situation change and our region receive unaccompanied refugee children in the future.”

Murray said that his office will to continue to monitor the situation and remain in regular contact with state and federal agencies to keep abreast of new developments.

In the meantime, Murray will also:

  • Direct relevant City departments to refresh their staffs’ and contractors’ understanding of the City’s sanctuary policy, which does not require proof of status from residents requesting or receiving City-funded services;
  • Conduct, through the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA), a media campaign to raise awareness within Seattle’s immigrant communities about the City’s sanctuary policy; and
  • Direct OIRA, the Human Services Department and the Office of Housing, among other City departments, to begin studying how City government can work in conjunction with our community partners – churches, community-based organizations, faith organizations, and business and philanthropic institutions – in order to best support new arrivals when the need arises.

Finally, Murray said that he will send a letter to Washington’s Congressional delegation urging increased funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, both to serve the refugee children crossing our borders and to restore previous cuts to services for refugees who are already here.

“To pit the needs of incoming refugee children against the needs of new Americans who’ve been resettled and are now working to integrate within their communities is wrong,” said Murray. “Here in Seattle, refugee resettlement agencies are feeling the impact of having funding for existing services for refugees and their families eliminated. We can and must do better.”

Throughout his career as an elected official, Murray has been a strong advocate for immigrant populations. As chair of the state House Capital Budget Committee, Murray established the first-ever state investment in farm-worker housing. As chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, Murray secured funding for medical interpreters and helped make Washington the first state to protect medical interpreters with a union contract. Then-Sen. Murray was also the original sponsor of the Washington DREAM Act to open state financial aid to undocumented students, which was signed into law during the 2014 Legislative Session. In one of his first acts as Mayor, Murray doubled the size of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.

City invites neighbors to participate in fifth ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk

Find It Fix It Community Walks

Mayor Murray’s ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk, focused on several crime hotspots, makes its way to a fifth neighborhood in Seattle next Tuesday, August 12.

At the walks, community residents, police, and city officials walk together to identify physical disorder and solve it. As a result of these walks, Seattle City Light, the Seattle Department of Transportation, the Department of Planning and Development, and Seattle Public Utilities have worked – and continue to work – to make improvements in Seattle’s neighborhoods. Watch videos, view photos and read actions taken as a result of these walks at:

The next Find It, Fix It Community Walk:
Tuesday, August 12, 7 – 9 p.m., Rainier Ave. and Henderson
Meet at the Rainier Beach Community Center Plaza (Map)

7 – 7:15 p.m.

  • Short program featuring Mayor Ed Murray, City Councilmember Sally J. Clark, City Attorney Pete Holmes, Seattle Police Department Chief Kathleen O’Toole, and department representatives.

7:15 – 9 p.m.

Walk commences along the following route:

  • South on Rainier Ave S.
  • East to Seward Park Ave S.
  • North on Seward Park Ave S.
  • West on S. Fisher Place
  • North on 53rd Ave S.
  • West on S. Henderson
  • North on Rainier Ave S. to Cloverdale
  • Return south to Rainier Beach Community Center

9 p.m.

  • Walk concludes and department representatives are available for follow-up questions.

For more information on Murray’s public safety strategy for Seattle, visit

Mayor Murray applauds passage of Parks District measure

Mayor Murray today issued the following statement in response to the apparent passage of the Seattle Parks District measure by Seattle voters:

“I want to thank Seattle voters for their support of the parks district and commitment to creating a lasting legacy of open space and facilities for generations of Seattleites.

This vote means a sustainable source of funding for our parks system. We will begin work immediately to address our existing maintenance backlog, working diligently to manage the needs of our park system as Seattle continues to grow as a city.”