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

Reardan-Edwall school district seeks to renew $6 million levy as alternative to ‘drastic cuts to staff’

 (Molly Quinn/The Spokesman-Review)

Reardan-Edwall schools are seeking renewals of property tax collections that fund staff, extracurriculars and school safety essential to school operations.

“There’s zero chance we can operate our school district without making dramatic, drastic cuts to staff if this levy does not pass,” Superintendent Eric Sobotta said.

If voters in February’s special election approve renewal of the educational programs and operations levy, property tax collections from the school district would renew at an estimated rate of $2 per $1,000 in assessed property value over the next three years, for a total tax collection of over $6 million in that time.

Money from the levy constitutes 15% of the district’s operating budget, mostly toward staff: school resource officers, nurses, behavioral health professionals, athletic directors, coaches and school safety directors are all at least partly funded by the levy.

The district’s largely levy-funded security system keeps students and staff safe in the event of tragedy at one of the district’s two school buildings, Sobotta said, and is seen as a “lighthouse” for other rural districts.

“We’re about as prepared as you can be,” Sobotta said.

The school safety director works to regularly network with emergency response services in both counties the district falls within: Spokane and Lincoln. In rural areas such as Reardan, response times can be slower in the event of an active shooter or other threat to students and staff. An armed school resource officer is posted at each of the district’s neighboring campuses.

“Our grounds have been set up appropriately for security measures,” said Bob Swannack, English teacher and basketball coach at the high school. “Having the two officers on campus, absolutely 100% when I come into this building, I don’t fear what I once used to fear.”

The levy funds the entirety of the district’s extracurricular offerings, including athletics, arts and clubs that are all unfunded by state dollars.

As a basketball coach of 11 years, Swannack sees firsthand the benefits involvement in a sport brings to a student’s school life.

“Kids that are involved with extracurricular activities, whether they play for me or any other program here at Reardan, they are just more bought in,” Swannack said. “The relationships that they have with their peers are much, much more distinguished, they’re willing to take more risks. They’re typically our better student population as far as academics go.”

Voters can weigh in on levy renewals during February’s special election. Ballots have already been mailed to voters and are due on election day, Feb. 13.