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Voters give green light to school district 'extras'

School levies pass

Walla Walla School District officials and supporters react with pleasure upon seeing the district's levy passing handily in Tuesday's election. Pictured, from left, are Superintendent Wade Smith, school board President Sam Wells, community supporter Lawson Knight and board member Eric Rindal.

Tuesday’s special election brought good news for school districts to an area dealing with flood devastation, including home and property loss and broken river levees.

But the levies voters approved in this month’s special election will bolster school programs and services in Walla Walla, College Place, Dixie, Dayton, Waitsburg and Prescott schools.

School levies fund the extras that basic education dollars in Washington state do not, area officials have said.

Levy requests to voters this year ranged from a new bus to handle a rapid influx of students at College Place Public Schools to money for fine arts and extra-curricular activities in Walla Walla Public Schools to smaller class sizes and preschool programs in Waitsburg.

This morning, Walla Walla Superintendent Wade Smith said in an email to community partners that Tuesday’s “learning levy” approval will ensure programs and opportunities for students and a stable environment for some 800 employees.

“Not only was last night’s approval rating the highest in 26 years in Walla Walla, it was also the highest approval rating statewide for all districts of similar size and larger…,” Smith said.

School levies must pass with a simple majority, or one vote over 50%. Every local school levy did so, with today’s numbers from the Washington Secretary of State’s tally as follows:

Walla Walla School District’s replacement of expiring levy

Yes — 71.06% (5,331 votes)

No — 28.75% (2,171 votes)

College Place School District transportation levy

Yes — 59.34% (1,538 votes)

No — 40.12% (1,040 votes)

Dixie School District programs and operations levy

Yes — 61.27% (87 votes)

No — 36.62% (52 votes)

Dixie School District health, safety and energy efficiency improvements

Yes — 59.15% (84 votes)

No — 38.73% (55 votes)

Prescott School District educational programs and operations

Yes — 68.79% (97 votes)

No — 30.50% (43 votes)

Dayton School District maintenance and operations

Yes — 62.36% (714 votes)

No — 37.47% (429 votes)

Dayton School District heating and cooling system and new technology

Yes — 63.14% (723 votes)

No — 36.51% (418 votes)

Waitsburg School District education programs and operations

Yes — 60% (192 votes)

No — 40% (128 votes)

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 509-526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers education in the Walla Walla Valley. She also writes a column, Home Place, usually highlighting family life and slices of local life.