School officials across the Valley sent grateful thank yous this week to voters who agreed to support education programs with their tax dollars.
“What a wonderful affirmation, not just here but throughout the area,” said Dave Smith, West Valley schools superintendent.
“It’s been a great election for the Valley,” said Harry Amend, Freeman schools superintendent.
Maintenance and operations levies passed in all Valley districts, as well as technology levies in West Valley and Freeman, and a bus levy in Central Valley.
In unofficial returns, 78 percent of Central Valley voters supported the M&O levy; 75 percent supported the bus levy.
In East Valley, 73 percent supported the levy.
In West Valley, 73 percent supported the M&O levy; 66.5 percent backed the technology levy. In Freeman, 71 percent spported the M&O levy; 62.7 percent supported the technology levy.
The M&O levies help pay for vocational education, transportation, music and art programs and gifted and at-risk programs and help the district keep class sizes small.
The levies require a super-majority of 60 percent to pass.
In Central Valley, officials watched not only their own returns, but voters’ actions in Spokane School District 81. The 77 percent approval rating that Spokane voters gave District 81’s construction bond bodes well for Central Valley’s dream of rebuilding both Central Valley and University high schools.
“We’re going to be focusing our attention on coming up with a package that the community will support,” said Wally Stanley, Central Valley superintendent. Work toward a Central Valley bond that would go to a vote within the next year will likely start right away.
The two high schools “are not getting any younger,” he said.
In Central Valley, more than 9,200 votes were cast, offering the district a cushion of about 1,700 votes more than needed for validation.
Validation had been a concern for most of the Valley districts, but in each case a comfortable margin of voters turned out.
“I was amazed at the number of absentee ballots,” Stanley said, The morning after the election, Amend said that he and others at Freeman were holding off their celebration until the remaining 147 absentee ballots were counted. In all, 465 Freeman voters had asked the county elections office to send them absentee ballots.
The trend of strong absentee ballots occurred in each district, leaving some officials wondering if they should consider an all-mail election for the next levy in two years.
East Valley schools superintendent Chuck Stocker said that, with three times the mail-in votes his district has ever had, he’s concerned that his levy committee may have to run what amounts to two campaigns, one for mail-in voters and one for others.
“It makes sense to me try to go one way or another,” Stocker said.
Central Valley will immediately start the process of ordering new school buses to replace 15 buses that have 250,000 or 300,000 miles on them. Even still, those new buses may not be delivered until after the start of school next fall.
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