Three of four area school measures failing
Spokane County voters repeated their “no taxes” message from November, rejecting three of four school funding requests in today’s special election.
Central Valley, Mead and Readan-Edwall school districts all saw tax requests heading to failure tonight. Only voters in the Newport School District appeared to be supporting a levy.
Passage of the proposed bonds and levies initially looked promising, officials said, because the propositions on the ballot were continued taxes; property owners would pay the same or just a few cents more per $1,000 assessed value.
“Definitely, there’s a feeling of surprise,” said Melanie Rose, a Central Valley spokeswoman. “Surprise, shock and, of course, disappointment.”
Central Valley School District’s construction bond included a new elementary school, renovation and expansion of Evergreen Middle School, modernization and renovation of Opportunity, Ponderosa, Greenacres and Chester elementary schools and a district-wide security upgrade.
Voters came out against the bond, with 54 to 46 percent.
The school buildings were built in the late 1960s to late ’70s, officials said. Those high-use facilities have grown old.
“The building will continue to age,” Rose said. “The students’ safety will continue to be compromised. It’s disappointing the community didn’t support these bonds, didn’t support our schools.”
The $69.6 million bond would have cost taxpayers $2.30 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2012, 65 cents more than they are currently paying.
Mead School District’s $59 million bond would have modernized Midway and Shiloh Hills elementary schools and Northwood Middle School; acquired property for future school sites.
Tonight, 51 percent were voting against the plan.
The current rate of $2.20 per $1,000 assessed value would have remained the same had the bond passed, Mead officials said.
The last time a bond failed in the Mead School District was 1973.
The district’s Facilities Planning Commission put the bond package together and it will be up to them to reevaluate the bond and decide if and when to re-run it, said Mead Superintendent Tom Rockefeller. He said they will likely wait a few years to re-run the bond.
“It’s evident the issue with taxes and the issue with the economy right now are there,” Rockefeller said.Levies
Reardan-Edwall, a small district that straddles Spokane and Lincoln counties, asked voters to continue its $1.1 million levy with a 5 percent increase each year for the next four years.
But voters were hesitant, with 51 percent voting against it as of tonight.
Athletic programs are 100 percent dependent on the levy, as well as Future Business Leaders of America, FFA and other extracurricular activities, school officials said. The money also pays for four teachers.
The rate per $1,000 assessed value is $2.72 now, and would have been $2.73 in 2012 had the levy been approved.
The Newport School District, with residents in Spokane and Pend Oreille counties, asked voters to approve a three-year, $1.3 million replacement levy.
And voters said yes, with about 60 percent voting in favor as of Tuesday night.
The money pays for staff and programs, including music and arts, transportation from afterschool activities, a teacher for the gifted program, two school counselors and nursing services.
It will cost $1.82 per $1,000 assessed value in 2012 then decrease over the subsequent two years.
Reporters Jody Lawrence-Turner, Chelsea Bannach and Lisa Leinberger contributed to this report.