Preliminary results show Washougal school levies passing by comfortable margins

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Sign-wavers urging people to "vote yes!" on the Washougal School District's two replacement levies stand near levy opponents at the corner of "E" Street and Washougal River Road on April 10, 2023. (Doug Flanagan/Post-Record files)

The second time may be a charm for the Washougal School District’s replacement levies. 

Preliminary election results updated at 8:17 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, show the school district’s largest levy — the three-year educational programs and operations (EPO) levy that funds student learning and staffing and operations costs not covered by the state, as well as athletics programs, health and safety needs and instructional support — is passing by 14 percentage points with 2,857 “yes” votes (57.22%) and 2,136 “no” votes (42.78%). 

The district’s smaller levy, the three-year replacement capital levy for technology, health and safety improvements, which would help replace a failing roof at Washougal High School, make ADA improvements and provide technology support to Washougal students, also is passing by a comfortable margin of about 12 percentage points, with 2,735 “yes” votes (56.18%) and 2,133 “no” votes (43.82%). 

After voters rejected both replacement levies in the February special election, Washougal School Board members voted to re-run the levies in the April 25 election.

If the levies fail, the school district will need to reduce its operating budget by 20% and cut 244 staff positions — including 40 teachers, counselors and certified staff members; 44 paraeducators, custodians, bus drivers, secretaries and other classified staff members; five district administrators; and 155 coaches and club advisers — for the 2023-24 school year.

If the levies pass, they will replace the district’s current levies, which are set to expire at the end of 2023. 

The EPO levy rates for 2023-25 are lower than the rates voters approved in 2020: $1.99 per $1,000 assessed property value (APV) in 2024, 2025 and 2026, down from $2.14 per $1,000 APV in 2021, 2022 and 2023. The levy is expected to collect $9.5 million in 2024, $10.5 million in 2025 and $11.5 million in 2026. 

WSD leaders recommended keeping the replacement capital facilities and technology levy rate at 21 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value (APV) in 2024, then increasing it to 84 cents per $1,000 APV (2025) and to 85 cents per $1,000 APV in 2026, to help the district address several long-term maintenance and safety needs, including new security door access systems; a new roof at Washougal High School; new boilers and control systems for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in the district’s older buildings; new flooring; and doors at main building entrances that will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The school district projected the levy would collect $950,000 in 2024, $3.95 million in 2025, and $4.15 million in 2026.

Clark County Elections reported Tuesday that elections workers had counted 4,718 ballots for the April 25, 2023 Special Election, which included the Washougal School District’s replacement levies, as well as a replacement EPO levy for the Woodland School District in north Clark County, and had an estimated 2,500 ballots left to count. Voter turnout as of Tuesday, April 25, is at 31.69%. The county will count ballots again at 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 26. 

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