Voters across the state are being asked today asked to approve more than half a billion dollars worth of school levies and bonds, including a $330 million school-construction measure in Seattle that has been defeated four times in a row.
Clark County voters, meanwhile, will decide whether to increase taxes to pay for their share of a project to extend a light-rail train system from Portland to Hazel Dell.
Forty-two school districts are seeking maintenance and operation levies totaling $122.1 million. They range from a one-year, $55,000 measure in the Northport School District in Stevens County, to a two-year issue in Pierce County’s Peninsula district that would raise $18 million.
Twelve districts are seeking a total of $129.4 million in bond issues; four districts, including Seattle, are seeking $330.25 million in capital projects levies; and the Okanogan School District is alone in seeking a transportation vehicle levy, for $88,563.
The figures are down substantially from February 1994, when districts presented levy proposals totaling about $2.6 billion and bonds totaling $1.75 billion, said Chris Thompson, a spokesman for the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s office in Olympia.
The money issues on last February’s ballots also covered 80 percent of the state’s public-school students, while this year’s proposals are in districts that contain just 17 percent of the 934,000 students, Thompson said.
He speculated districts submitted their proposals in droves last February because it followed the off-year general election of November 1993. School-finance elections must have turnouts equaling 40 percent or higher of the number of voters who turned out in the previous general election to validate the elections.
“There was a huge turnout in the general election of ‘92, so February ‘93 would have been a tough time to validate,” he said.