Lakewood sets goal to put levy back on ballot

The day after voters in Lakewood rejected a maintenance and operation levy, the school district was preparing to put it back on the ballot for a second and final chance in April.

Leaders in the Arlington and Monroe school districts were more hopeful that they might see their levies pass when another batch of absentee ballots is counted Friday.

The Snohomish County Auditor’s Office had 1,650 absentee ballots left to count as of Wednesday afternoon. Auditor Bob Terwilliger said there would be enough to change the outcomes in Arlington and Monroe.

Darrington, Granite Falls and the Stanwood-Camano districts passed their levies Tuesday night.

Here’s an update on the others:

The Lakewood School Board will meet at 7 tonight in the high school library, 17023 11th Ave. NE, to consider placing the levy proposal on the April 27 ballot.

The levy represents 17 percent of the district’s revenue — a minimum $1.5 million cut out of its $18.5 million budget next year.

By state law, school districts are required to send notices by May 15 to teachers whose contracts might not be renewed. The April 27 ballot would allow the district to avoid doing that.

"If you wait until the (May) 18th ballot, we would have to hand out RIF (reduction in force) notices," district spokesman Allen Sharples said. "For morale, you have to get around that if you possibly can."

The levy proposal received a 54.9 percent "yes" vote Tuesday but school levies require a 60 percent supermajority. The proposed levy rate varies from $3.20 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $3.29 percent in 2008.

Terwilliger gives the Arlington levy "a fairly good chance" of passing.

The measure received a 59.47 percent "yes" vote on election night. Terwilliger estimates that there may be 400 more ballots to count.

"I really do think we have a good chance of passing on Friday," said Linda Byrnes, the district’s superintendent.

The levy represents about 18 percent of its $36 million annual budget. About 40 percent of the levy pays salaries.

As a precaution, the Arlington School Board will meet at 5:30 p.m. today at district headquarters, 315 N. French Ave., to discuss an April 27 or May 18 ballot.

The proposed levy rate is $3.09 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2005 and would gradually decline to $2.90 per $1,000 by 2008. The current rate is $3.15 per $1,000.

The mood around the Monroe schools office Wednesday was cautiously optimistic, said Rosemary O’Neil, the district’s spokeswoman.

"Nobody’s ready to say it failed, but we’re not as jubilant as we could be," O’Neil said. "Nobody’s dancing."

Terwilliger estimates there are about 500 yet-to-be-counted Monroe ballots.

O’Neil said the district had many volunteers getting the word out on the levy proposals, particularly during the final weekend before the election, so there’s a chance the result could swing in Monroe’s favor.

As a precaution, school board members will meet at 7 a.m. Friday at district headquarters, 200 E. Fremont St., to talk about when they might make a second effort.

The district has two proposals on the table.

The first is $34.7 million for maintenance and operations over four years, about $8.8 million annually. The second is for transportation, to replace school buses that have been on the road since 1978. It’s a one-year levy that would take in $500,000.

Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446 or

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