The celebration at the Nine Mile Falls School District offices began at mid-morning on Friday.
Three days earlier, the district of 1,400 students had apparently failed to pass a three-year, $10.85-million replacement levy.
It also appeared that Nine Mile – which straddles the border between Spokane and Stevens counties – would be the only district in the area to fail.
But after almost three days of uncertainty, late returns from Stevens County pushed the levy over the finish line.
“It’s a better day,” Superintendent Brian Talbott said Friday afternoon.
As of Friday, the levy had 1,838 votes, or 50.8%, in favor and 1,780 against.
The levy trailed by 53 votes Tuesday night. The gap narrowed to 35 on Wednesday, after more ballots were received in Spokane County.
Then on Thursday: nothing.
“But we knew in talking with Stevens County that there were about 500 total votes that had to be counted,” Talbott said. “But we weren’t sure how many of those were in our district.”
As it turned out, the vast majority of the outstanding votes came from the district’s Tum Tum neighborhood. And of those 445 additional ballots, 269 backed the levy.
More than anything, Talbott said he was grateful for the support.
“This is a community thing,” Talbott said. “This a tough time, and we understand very well the difficulties of what our families and our constituents are going through.”
Overall, residents will be saving 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. That’s because a Capital Improvement Levy that collected $1.45 per $1,000 has expired and is not being renewed.
However, the replacement levy itself will cost $2.50 per $1,000, an increase over the $1.72 per $1,000 being collected this year.
In addition to athletics, art, music, electives, nurses and counselors, the levy will pay for additional costs related to COVID-19 and distance learning.
The district estimates it has spent $450,000 on COVID costs, including technology, personal protective equipment and increased food service.
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