Voters approve school levies throughout the county

Tonasket bond fails to get 60 percent

OKANOGAN COUNTY – Voters in the Oroville, Tonasket, Pateros, Brewster, Okanogan and Omak School Districts all approved levies in the Tuesday, Feb. 11 Special Election, however, a measure that would have expanded facilities and replaced the Alternative School in the Tonasket District has fallen short of approval.

The $6 million bond would have allowed the Tonasket School District to expand the elementary and high school facilities, adding more classroom space needed to fulfill the district’s goal of getting back to a full day – something that is being required for all high schools by the state in the coming year. With the bond used to construct the current school buildings in 1997 being retired last December (months earlier than originally planned), the $6 million for new construction would have been used to add four classrooms and office space to the elementary school; replace the Alternative Education building (near the tennis courts) that is nearing the end of its life span; adding four classrooms, laboratory bays and additional flexible space to the middle/high school complex; and add a permanent concession stand and provide funding to address long-term maintenance issues with the outdoor athletic facilities

The bond, which needed at least a 60 percent supermajority, had only received 54.37 precent of the returned ballots in favor of the issue as of the second ballot count held last Friday, Feb. 14.

Tonasket’s two-year Maintenance and Operations Levy of $1.64 million replaces the existing similar levy that expires this year. Of that total $640,000 is dedicated to increasing staffing as the district extends its school day about 45 minutes. The district has operated with a shortened day since the mid-1990s and has been attempting to return to the full day for several years. The levy passed by a wide margin. Even though it needed only a simple majority of 51 percent, the proposition garnered 64.24 percent approval.

Oroville also passed their $1.497 million M&O Levy, a direct replacement for the prior two-year levy with 59.45 percent. The collection rate of $2.40 per thousand is slightly less than that for the previous levy because property values within the school district have increased. The M&O levy provides additional money for programs and operations that the state either does not fund or does not fund completely. The levy represents approximately 23 percent of the school districts budget and helps to support and supplement a multitude of items such as technology, transportation, athletics, clubs, food service, personnel, maintenance items, school nurse, and many other things that could not otherwise be funded with state allocation alone, according to Steve Quick, Oroville School District Superintendent.

Oroville Voters also approved redistricting boundaries of board members to create another at-large position. The District #2 board member position has remained vacant since October 2012 when that district’s representative resigned. Redistricting will allow the board to redraw board director districts into three defined areas where directors must live, and convert the district #2 position into an at-large position, which would allow anybody who lives within the district as a whole to fill it, said Quick. He added, that three years ago voters overwhelmingly approved a change from five distinct districts to four defined ones and one at-large.

The measure also needed a supermajority and received 66.02 percent approval.

The election will be certified on Tuesday, Feb. 25, according to Chief Deputy Mila Jury, Certified Election Administrator with the county auditor’s office.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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