With nearly all of the votes now in and counted, it appears that the White Salmon Valley School District's two-year maintenance and operation replacement levy has been approved.
The latest unofficial vote totals from the Feb. 7 special election show that the measure was supported by more than 62 percent of the voters. State law requires a 60 percent "supermajority" for tax measures to be approved. The required threshold based on number of voters participating -- 40 percent of those voting in the previous election -- was easily met. Only 684 ballots needed to be cast to validate the election, and more than 1,500 voted.
Including absentee ballots received as of Friday, the latest count, including the ballots from those living within the White Salmon School District in eastern Skamania County, showed a total of 1,115 "Yes" votes (62.53 percent) and 668 "No" votes (37.47 percent).
"It looks very promising," said Dale Palmer, superintendent of the school district. "I want to thank our voters for their support. I feel we have a tremendous school system here, and now we can continue as usual and add a few things needed at our school. I'm thankful our voters came out and supported us. We appreciate it."
The $1.675 million levy goes to pay for a variety of items, including: installation of security system at school buildings; upgrading the school's computer hardware and software, including virus protection and system filters, and other technology; money to maintain and upgrade the school district-owned Park Center building; hiring a supervisor trained to deal with students with behavioral problems; covering increases in insurance premiums and utility and fuel prices; and purchasing equipment to maintain the school's district's athletic fields.
Just over 70 percent of voters in the school district backed the last two-year M&O levy request, which came in February 2004.
"This goes to show the support from the community and the trust in our school system," Palmer said. "In my 28 years here, I can remember only two times a levy failed on the first go-round. To my knowledge, there has never been a double levy failure."
School districts are allowed to take the measure to voters twice in a year.
Most of the other school districts around Klickitat County also fared very well. Voters in the Glenwood School District supported the local general operating expenses levy by a count of 106 in favor (68.39 percent) to 49 against (31.61 percent). In Centerville, the support was almost identical: the school district levy there passed by a total of 105 "Yes" votes (68.18 percent) to 49 "No" votes (31.82 percent).
There was one exception, however: In the Goldendale School District, for the second time in two years, voters did not muster enough support to pass the school levy. Although there was a majority of support for the measure, it failed to gain the 60 percent supermajority required for passage.
The Goldendale tally had 1,101 in support (55.49 percent), with 885 against (44.51 percent), and failed to reach the required 60 percent supermajority.
Voter turnout for the Klickitat County special election was 46.56 percent, with a few ballots yet to be counted.