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Next Spokane Election: February School Bond and Levy

Paige Browning
Spokane Public Radio

The general election is about five weeks behind us and already Spokane is gearing up for the next round of ballots. The city will have a special election February 10th, and voters will decide on two school funding measures.

School Superintendent Dr. Shelley Redinger highlights what projects were completed in the last cycle. 

Shelley Redinger: “Some of the big projects that people probably know are Rogers High School, most recently Ferris High school, the new Jefferson Elementary…”

Every three years the district asks voters to renew its funding levy, and every six years asks for bond money. Both are due this February for a vote. She says this time they’re asking for voters to pay, per $1,000 assessed property value, $4.02 for the levy, and $1.96 for the bond. Those match the previous cycle’s rates.

Proposed bond:

Redinger: “So we heard this loud and clear from our families as well as our staff, is a real desire for bond dollars going toward additional security and safety upgrades… So one is a secure or single point of entry at all of our schools.”

Garfield Elementary has a version of the single entry right now, as Principal Clint Price shows me at recess. He says "you can enter through one door on the front of the building now, everywhere else is locked… so we have our access keys.”

And he tells me to look up. There are two security cameras watching the playground.

Credit Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio
Spokane Public Radio
Elementary and high schools in Spokane are outfitted with security cameras, like seen here at Garfield, but several schools want more.

  Price: “We’ll be receiving, if the bond passes, another round of security cameras because we do have some blind spots somewhere. Before and after school we just like to be able to monitor and be sure the kids are safe all the time.”

Price says heaven forbid they need to use their crisis protocol, but if so they have cameras, and use intercoms throughout the school.

Price: “Our first job, as we’re standing out here on the playground, obviously is safety and security. We house 520 of the most precious things in this community and I’m a dad too.”

Superintendent Redinger says bond money will also go to renovating buildings. With the new state initiative mandating smaller class sizes, this could mean extra school additions and some portable buildings.

Redinger. “We’ll be receiving some additional funds from the state for lowering class size, and enrollment growth- we’re expected to grow about 2,000 students over the next six years."

Principle Price is already thinking of portables for Garfield. He says right now, "all of our rooms are full, our art room is a 3rd-4th combination class.”

Schools scheduled for major upgrades in the six year bond cycle are the Franklin and Linwood Elementary, Shaw and Salk Middle Schools, North Central and Lewis and Clark High Schools, and more.

Proposed levy:

The levy funds programs, and Redinger says 22-percent of the district’s budget comes from city and state levy assistance.

Redinger: “Counselors, nurses, we have about 350 staff members paid out of our levy dollars. Electives, all of our extra-curriculars come out of our levy dollars.”

Garfield, for example, has special programs like the parent-involved APPLE program.

Price: “We have APPLE, we have regular Garfield, and we have a program which is our MHOH which serves probably our most needy kids in Spokane Public Schools, both physically and health wise, it’s a multi-handicap, orthopedically-handicap program.”

And Redinger says they rely on the levy for younger students. She says "it funds things like full day kindergarten for all of our elementary schools, the state only funds a little over half, and so we use levy dollars for that."

Election details:

She says they do expect the state to pitch in more though. If the bond passes she expects the state will match with about $25 million for Spokane schools.

Voters passed the last bond, in 2009, by 62 percent. And the last levy passed, in 2012, by almost 60 percent. A bond must pass by 60, and a levy must pass by 50 percent.

Other groups may file issues to be on the February ballot. The deadline for filing is December 26th.

Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio

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