WENATCHEE — At first count, it appears that voters sided with schools on all seven maintenance and operation levies around the region.
As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, every levy was passing with at least 57 percent voter support. Levies need more than 50 percent to pass.
Hundreds of ballots still need to be counted, including at least 500 in Chelan County, 300 in Grant County and 260 in Okanogan.
In Leavenworth, school officials reacted to the preliminary results with mixed emotions. Voters overwhelmingly supported the levy, but the school remodeling bond fell far short of the 60 percent majority it needed to pass. The bond measure gained 1,251 votes, just 46.2 percent.
“On the positive side, I think when it’s said and done we’ll be close to maybe a 50-50 split,” said Cascade Superintendent Steve McKenna. “That tells me that even in a difficult time, there is a good portion of the public that’s supportive of the project. Now, we need to go back, regroup and decide what direction, if any, we will go.”
The $46.4 million bond would have replaced its high school, built a performing arts center and made improvements to its other schools and athletic facilities. The school district was asking for 99 cents per thousand, or nearly $250 a year for a $250,000 home.
School Board President Kristen Wood believes the district still has a shot of passing the bond, albeit a long shot. When volunteers called local voters over the last week, many district supporters said they planned to take their last-minute ballots to the county drop box, which was not part of Tuesday’s count, she said.
“Maybe I’m not talking to the right people, but I really felt a great positiveness towards it,” she said. “If we’re not at least close, we’ll be disappointed and wondering where is that ‘no’ voter? Because I didn’t talk to them.“
Cashmere school officials celebrated the 66 percent approval of both their M&O levy and a six-year capital levy to rebuild the stadium’s rotting wooden grandstands. An engineering firm told the district in November that the 40-year-old structure was too unsafe for use after this spring.
“It’s reflective of the support the community gives schools and most importantly, the support they give our kids,” said Superintendent Glenn Johnson.
The stakes were especially high in this election as lawmakers consider significant reductions for the next two years, including some retroactive cuts from school budgets this year.
Most school districts asked for larger levies this time around, not enough to reverse the damage, but enough to make up for extra staff, programs and training that would otherwise be cut.
“It’s tough times and we understood that going forward,” Johnson said. “We weren’t asking to get back to where we were, just to maintain where we are at.”
Rachel Schleif: 664-7139