A special election Tuesday brought into focus the financial futures of several school districts in Southwest Washington.
Voters decided whether their school districts would be able to collect bonds or levies in the coming years. Bonds typically pay for new construction, while levies pay for staff and programs.
Polls closed Tuesday night. By Wednesday evening, voters approved levies for school districts in Vancouver, Washougal, Longview, Toutle Lake, Castle Rock and Kelso. Levies in Woodland and Kalama failed.
Michael Green, Woodland’s superintendent, said the failure means he and the school board will have to identify $5 million to cut from the district’s $37.5 million budget. Cuts could come from staff, athletics, extracurricular activities and elsewhere.
“There’s a lot of cuts that would be required. Substantial cuts,” Green said. Green noted, however, the board hasn’t met to identify those cuts. He added that the district will go back out to voters either in April or November.
A pair of bonds — which would have helped districts build new facilities — also failed.
Ridgefield’s $107 million bond fell a hair short. The bond received 59% approval, but Washington requires a 60% supermajority for bonds.
The bond would have paid for a new elementary school, a school for fifth and sixth graders, new playgrounds and an expansion at Ridgefield High School.
“Certainly if we had a presidential election where someone got 59% of the vote we’d be talking about a landslide,” Ridgefield Superintendent Nathan McCann said. “It’s kind of hard to fathom a candidate getting 59% of the vote in the current context of stuff.”
Likewise, a $34.7 million bond in Castle Rock failed to garner enough votes. District officials had hoped to build new middle and elementary school campuses.
Here is a summary of the Southwest Washington results:
- Castle Rock: 60.6% voted yes on a two-year, $5 million operations levy; 53.2% voted yes on $34.7 million bond
- Kalama: 55% voted no on a three-year, $10 million operations levy
- Kelso: 56.6% voted yes on a four-year, $27 million operations levy
- Longview: 57.2% voted yes on a four-year, $59.5 million operations levy
- Ridgefield: 58.4% voted yes on $107 million bond
- Toutle Lake: 52.8% voted yes on four-year, $6 million operations levy
- Vancouver: 59.3% voted yes on three-year, $31 million operations levy
- Washougal: 58% voted yes on three-year $24 million operations levy; 54.7% voted yes on three-year, $2.6 million technology levy
- Woodland: 55.6% voted no on a three-year, $17.3 million operations levy