Spokane County voters sent a nearly unified message about education in Tuesday’s election by approving 18 of 21 school tax proposals.
Even Central Valley School District appears likely to pass a bond for the first time since 1998.
“We are very excited,” Superintendent Ben Small said. “As a whole team, we acted as if we were 10 points down, but thought we could win. Tonight our voters gave a big shot in the arm to our students and our school district. We are very appreciative.”
Central Valley School District proposed a $121.9 million bond. The district plans updates and expansions to address overcrowding as well as plan for a third high school.
The district has grown by 1,700 students and it is projected to grow by 900 more in the next five years.
Six school districts – Central Valley, Spokane Public Schools, Mead, Nine Mile Falls, Cheney and Orchard Prairie – collectively asked for $410 million in the special election to improve district infrastructure. All 13 school districts in Spokane County that requested levies passed them.
Three school districts with bond proposals on the ballot were failing. Nine Mile Falls School District’s bond had failed with only 50 percent approval. Bonds for Cheney and Orchard Prairie school districts were failing with 57 percent so far.
While levies can pass with just 50 percent of the vote, approval for bonds requires a 60 percent or higher result.
Spokane Public Schools saw the same support it has experienced repeatedly in recent years as more than 68 percent of voters supported its $145 million bond. Its levy passed with close to 71 percent approval.
“We appreciate the continued tradition of community support in educating Spokane’s youth,” Superintendent Shelley Redinger said.
The projects include rehabilitating several elementary schools, rebuilding Salk Middle School, replacing Shaw Middle School’s gym, purchasing property, upgrading technology, and improving safety and security systems.
Mead School District’s bond also looked to be passing with close to 64 percent approval. After failing the last bond in 2012, Superintendent Tom Rockefeller was pleased with the result.
He credited the district’s parents and citizens group for success in the special election. “We are ready to get moving,” Rockefeller said. “There are a lot of things we need to do to address the growth in our district.”
The three flagship projects are modernization of Shiloh Hills and Midway elementary schools and replacing Northwood Middle School.
School officials said they were thrilled to see voters approve school proposals throughout the county.
Small said voters recognize the overall hard work being done in schools and feel strongly about educating children.
Results for the special election are preliminary, with thousands more ballots to count. They will be certified on Feb. 24.
The voter turnout for the election is 36 percent and could rise to about 40 percent by the time all ballots arrive by mail, said Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton. “That’s decent for a special election,” Dalton said. “We were hoping for close to 50 percent.”
Close to 49 percent of voters turned out for the special election in 2012, the last time a majority of districts ran levies.
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