Most school districts in Spokane County got the benefit of the doubt Tuesday night.
Replacement levies in 14 school districts were on the ballot, and all but one were leading, though some by narrow margins and nearly all by smaller margins than three years ago.
Central Valley School District’s $95.3 million levy appeared headed toward approval with a 53.6% “yes” vote, while the fate of Mead’s $53.2 million levy was too close to call.
“We’re very confident,” Central Valley Superintendent Ben Small said shortly after the votes were posted in Spokane County’s second-largest district.
“I think there’s a deep commitment in the Central Valley School District to our children, and people were able to understand that,” Small said.
Here is a rundown of levy elections in the county.
Like other districts asking voters to pass levies to bolster finances and educational offerings, CV was judged in part by its response to the pandemic.
The verdict: apparent passage, though much lower than the 70.3% who approved the levy in 2018.
Along with SPS, and based on guidance from state and regional health authorities, CV chose to begin the year with distance learning. Since then, the district of 14,500 students has gradually brought back its youngest learners, and last week began returning secondary students .
The levy will raise $29.2 million next year, $31.1 million in 2023 and $33 million in 2024.
The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value would be $2.40, a drop of 8 cents from this year.
Funds will cover many programs and personnel not supported by the state. In Central Valley’s case, they include a portion of the nurses, counselors, social workers, custodians and support staff.
The fate of the replacement levy in Spokane County’s third-largest district was passing Tuesday night: 51.9% voted yes, a margin of only 670 votes.
However, Superintendent Shawn Woodward noted the position Tuesday was better than when Mead schools went for a supplemental levy in November 2019, a measure that was defeated by a majority of voters.
“I feel like, overall, it is a vote of confidence from the community,” Woodward said, adding he believed votes counted later would support the levy.
If approved, the estimated levy tax rate will now be $2 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That’s an increase over the current rate of $1.47 per $1,000.
Three years ago, Mead’s replacement levy passed with 70.3% approval.
Voters in West Valley School District approved two levies.
The three-year $24.3 million levy was receiving 56% support, while its Technology, Safety, Security and Facilities Capital Projects levy, at a cost of $13.4 million over three years, was passing with 55% approval.
The rate of the operations levy would be unchanged at $2.50 per $1,000 in assessed home value.
Residents of Spokane County’s fourth-largest district voted to approve renewals to two existing levies, an Educational Programs and Operation levy and Capital Projects levy.
The operations levy, which passed with 55% approval, will raise property taxes by 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
Cheney Public Schools Superintendent Robert Roettger thanked voters Tuesday night.
“We’ve been blessed to have outstanding support from our community, and that continued tonight,” Roettger said.
The Capital Projects levy will go down to 10 cents per $1,000 following a 58% “yes” vote.
One of the few districts to begin the year with most students in class at least part of the week, the small district won passage of its replacement levy.
With 55.7% approval, the district will assess a rate of $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed property value each year.
Riverside received 69% approval of its previous replacement levy in 2018.
Voters gave 56.3% approval to the Medical Lake School District’s requesting for a replacement Educational Programs and Operation levy of $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed value each year.
Money raised from the levy accounts for 12% of the district’s budget, and the district will receive another $1.5 million a year from the state in Local Effort Assistance funding if the levy is approved.
Three years ago, the district passed its levy with 64% approval.
The first district in the county to reopen its schools, the Deer Park School District’s three-year replacement levy was narrowly passing Tuesday.
The district earned 52.3% approval for its proposal to maintain a tax rate of $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed property value in its replacement Educational Programs and Operation levy on the ballot. That tax rate is the minimum required if a district wants to qualify to receive Local Effort Assistance funding.
The district will use money to pay for school nurses, science and math classes, athletics, art and music, as well as funding additional teachers to reduce K-8 class sizes. Textbooks and security cameras are also on the list for funding.
Straddling the border of Spokane and Lincoln counties, Reardan-Edwall’s levy appeared headed for approval Tuesday, with 54.1% in support.
If approved, the levy is expected to collect $1.3 million a year, which is 13% of the district’s annual budget.
The district won passage of two replacement levies on the ballot, an Educational Programs and Operation levy and a Technology, Safety and Security levy.
The rates are $1.79 per $1,000 in assessed property value for the EP&O levy, which is lower than the $1.85 per $1,000 currently being collected, and 21 cents per $1,000 for the Technology, Safety and Security levy.
The EP&O levy passed with 57%, and the Technology, Safety and Security levy 58.7%.
By almost identical margins, the Freeman School District passed replacement Educational Programs and Operation levy (with 54.7% approval) and a replacement Safety, Security, Technology and Infrastructure capital levy (with 53.9% approving). The proposed rate for the EP&O levy will remain unchanged at $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed value each year. The levy, along with the Local Effort Assistance funding, accounts for 12% of the district’s budget.
The proposed rate for the SSTI capital levy will remain at $1.25 per $1,000 in assessed value. The capital levy is used to fund safety and security upgrades to the district’s campus, as well as technology. It is also used to modernize and remodel school facilities.
Nine Mile Falls
The Nine Mile Falls School District, which includes portions of Spokane and Stevens counties, was the only district in Spokane County with a levy proposal that was failing Tuesday.
However, the margin was razor-thin, failing by 53 votes with 50.9% of voters opposing the levy.
The district is seeking a replacement EP&O levy of $2.50 per $1,000 in assessed home value per year.The levy received 51.92% approval in Spokane County, a margin of 38 votes out of 1,104 cast. However, voters in Stevens County were rejecting the levy by a count of 1,572 to 1,519
This is a higher amount than the $1.72 per $1,000 being collected this year, but a Capital Improvement Levy that collected $1.45 per $1,000 has expired and is not being renewed. Overall, residents will be saving 67 cents per $1,000.
The Orchard Prairie School District, which includes one K-7 school in north Spokane County, passed with 64.2% a two-year replacement EP&O levy that would collect $1.25 per $1,000 in assessed property value. The levy would raise about $160,000 per year.
The Great Northern School District, which is composed of a single K-6 school in northwest Spokane County, easily won approval of a replacement EP&O levy with a rate of $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed value. The levy will raise about $242,000 in 2022.