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Mead voters reject school levy; West Valley school levy passing

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 5, 2019

Mead’s Riverpoint Academy, a tech and science-focused school, in 2018. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Mead’s Riverpoint Academy, a tech and science-focused school, in 2018. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Hoping to mitigate its budget problems with a $14.6 million supplemental levy, the Mead School District will now have to regroup after the proposal was resoundingly defeated Tuesday.

The levy needed only a simple majority, but more than 58% of voters said no to a proposal that would have reinstated some paraeducators who were let go in last year’s cuts.

As of Tuesday night, the levy had 4,237 yes votes and 5,902 opposed.

The rebuff also was felt in one of the board races, where challenger Michael Cannon – a levy opponent – easily defeated incumbent Dorcas Wylder, 56% to 44%.

However, longtime board member Bob Olson held off challenger John Hatcher, 56% to 43%. Another incumbent, Denny Denholm, was unopposed.

In the Central Valley School District, incumbents Cindy McMullen and Debra Long easily won re-election.

Elsewhere in the county, West Valley voters were close to approving a two-year, $5.3 million levy. A $4.2 million capital levy in Cheney was too close to call.

Like most districts in the state, Mead faced heavy budget cuts in the wake of large teacher raises and changes to the state model for funding basic education following the McCleary decision.

On May 7, the board approved $11 million in cuts.

At the same time, the district felt compelled to boost funding for safety and security following the findings of a task force that had been meeting since the beginning of 2018.

The levy also would have maintained nursing staff at current levels, increased safety and security personnel, and expanded learning opportunities for nontraditional students.

During the campaign, Cannon criticized the board for approving “historically large” pay increases to teachers, and for what he called a “shortsighted” decision to close the Riverpoint Academy and M.E.A.D. Alternative School.

The two-year West Valley levy is expected to restore some of the programs and staff that were cut over the summer. As of Tuesday, it was passing by 53% to 47%.

The Cheney levy was up in the air Tuesday night, with 49.75% voting yes. The proposal would help the district pay for future school sites and technology upgrades.

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