By Eric Stevick Herald Writer
Voters gave a big boost to local schools Tuesday despite a down economy.
All eight school district operations levies were passing, providing about one-fifth of their day-to-day operations budgets for the next four years.
Levies, which need a simple majority, were passing in Edmonds, Everett, Lake Stevens, Marysville, Mukilteo, Northshore, Snohomish and Sultan.
Voters were less eager to build schools in tough times.
A bond measure in Marysville was falling short of the 60 percent supermajority required by state law, while a $149.2 million bond was passing but too close to call in Northshore.
Local officials said the levies have become increasingly important because the Legislature again could cut state education spending as it grapples with a $2.6 billion shortfall.
Here’s a look at how each measure was faring Tuesday night:
The operations levy in the district of 33 schools and about 20,000 students was passing by a wide margin.
“We are just so deeply appreciative of the support of the community,” Superintendent Nick Brossoit said.
The operations levy and a six-year building repair and technology levy were passing easily.
“We’re happy,” said Ed Petersen, the Everett School Board president. “It is quite a statement that the public is willing to tax themselves in this environment. It sends a powerful message to the Legislature that the public values public education highly.”
The operations levy and a four-year technology levy were passing.
School district spokeswoman Arlene Hulten said voters asked probing questions about school financing during the campaign.
“It just went to a deeper level than before, and rightfully so,” she said. “We are very, very happy with the results. It is such a relief.”
While the levy passed, a 20-year, $78 million bond measure to replace three aging schools and make improvements on other campuses, was short of the supermajority. The “yes” vote was 51.65 percent Tuesday night but the measure needed 60 percent.
“We are delighted for the levy and disappointed for the bond,” Superintendent Larry Nyland said.
Nyland said the district could have saved $15 million to $20 million if the bond passed in an economy where contractors are eager to get work.
He said it is too early to know when the district will attempt another bond measure, acknowledging that “9 percent is a big stretch to make up.”
The operations levy and a capital projects levy were passing with more than 60 percent “yes” votes.
The capital levy will provide $20 million over six years to cover the costs of repairing and maintaining the district’s three high schools, four middle schools and 11 elementary schools for 14,000 students.
The state’s 11th largest school district was passing an operations levy, technology levy and $149.2 million bond that would upgrade schools. The bond results are close and could take a few days to decide.
In Snohomish, where the operations levy was passing comfortably, levy committee member Patty Venema said she was pleased by the results.
“The community really came through for us and resoundingly said yes to a levy in a tough economic time,” she said. “I think people are looking at the big picture.”
In Sultan, where the levy was passing handily, Superintendent Dan Chaplik said supporters worked hard.
“We know there are struggles out there and we were certainly mindful of that,” he said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org.