Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Voters overwhelmingly approve Spokane Public Schools levy

William Hodge carries his second-grade daughter Ava’s backpack after picking her up from Sheridan Elementary School on Dec. 16, 2020, in Spokane.  (Dan Pelle/THESPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Jim Allen and Kip Hill The Spokesman-Review

Despite the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, support for Spokane Public Schools remains solid.

On Tuesday night, almost 64% of voters approved a three-year, $221.6 million replacement levy that the district says will fill gaps not covered by the state.

That is below the 73% “yes” vote garnered by the 2018 levy, which expires this year.

However, much has changed since then, and some parents were frustrated by the district’s deliberate pace of returning students to in-person instruction.

Even so, a sizable majority appeared to affirm the district’s decisions, including its commitment to follow the guidance of state and local health officials.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the support of the community, and I really appreciate the work of our teachers and staff,” first-year Superintendent Adam Swinyard said Tuesday night.

The amount approved by voters for the district’s enrichment levy is $65.7 million next year, up from the $38 million authorized for collection this year.

The Spokane Public Schools levy pays for 36 nurses, 20 counselors, 36 custodians, 32 technology specialists and at least 20 other personnel.

Levy funds also support smaller class sizes and extracurricular activities such as athletics, art, music and drama.

School leaders have suggested that approval of the levy will allow the district to restore some librarian positions that were lost during budget cuts in 2019.

The levy passed handily throughout the district, passing in all but 10 of the district’s 157 precincts .

The measure had the strongest support on much of the South Hill, in Latah Valley, downtown, Browne’s Addition, Logan, Kendall Yards and along Northwest Boulevard near Audubon Park.

 (Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)
(Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)

The levy will cost taxpayers up to $2.40 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2021, 5 cents more the following year and $2.50 in the final year.

With the levy’s passage, the overall education tax burden for Spokane County taxpayers will rise from $7.02 per $1,000 this year to $7.40 in 2022, $7.45 the following year and $7.50 per $1,000 in 2024.

More ballots will be counted Wednesday.

Reporter Jim Camden contributed to this article.