The head of Spokane’s Nine Mile Falls School District is breathing easier. It appears his district’s maintenance and operations levy will be approved by a slim margin.
It’s the tightest race of more than a dozen levies on Spokane County’s February 9 special election ballot. On Election Night, victory was in doubt.
Superintendent Brian Talbott’s district straddles the Spokane-Stevens County line. After the first group of ballots was released, the levy had 51% support in Spokane, but only 48% in Stevens, where two-thirds of the district’s patrons live. It needs 50%-plus-one-vote.
“When I saw both combined, your heart sinks. Certainly there was worry about what’s next and you already start to process," he said.
But there were still ballots left to count. Talbott says the district learned last Friday that the levy took a two-vote lead out of more than 2,400 cast in Stevens County. It also maintained its lead in Spokane. So, with only a few stray votes left to count, when the election is certified on Friday, the levy will probably pass.
That tight race is indicative of a trend. While nearly all of the other school levies in Spokane County will also win, most received approval rates that are lower than in a typical year.
“I think the uncertainty is an issue that our voters are concerned about, not only for what is education going to look like. We’re certainly not able to deliver in the way we have in the past, and so there’s a lot of thought around ‘I’ll fund it when it’s back to normal,'" he said.
The pandemic may not allow normal anytime soon, but the passage of the levy will at least allow Nine Mile Falls some certainty about its financial situation through 2024.