Voters show strong support for Camas school levies

Latest ballot count shows levies passing with more than 58% support; election will be certified Feb. 23

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Supporters of the Camas School District replacement levies wave pro-levy signs in Camas ahead of the Feb. 13, 2024 Special Election. (Contributed photo courtesy of Concerned Citizens for Quality Schools)

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited to reflect the most recent election results as of Feb. 14, 2024. 

The results are in and, as of the first ballot count Tuesday evening, the Camas School District’s levies look likely to pass.

Unofficial results posted to the Clark County Elections website at 3:34 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, show the school district’s Proposition 6, which asked voters to approve a 4-year replacement educational programs and operations (EP&O) levy, is passing by a margin of 58.6% to 41.4%, with 5,128 “yes” votes compared to 3,629 “no” votes.

Likewise, CSD’s Proposition 7, which asked voters to approve a 4-year replacement capital levy for educational technology, health and safety, is passing 60-40 as of Feb. 14, with 5,218 “yes” votes and 3,471 “no” votes.

The margins of support for both levies have increased as election workers tallied more ballots between Election Day on Tuesday, Feb. 13, and the last ballot count on Wednesday, Feb. 14.

In the Camas School District, levy funds help supplement state and federal funding for teachers, support staff and special education teachers and assistants, help maintain school facilities, contribute to social-emotional learning programs, purchase additional textbooks and curricula, pay for additional health services and provide 100% of the funding required for extracurricular activities, athletics and other programs not funded by the state.

If approved, the replacement levies would continue to cost Camas property owners $1.82 per $1,000 assessed property value (APV) for the EP&O levy and 39 cents per $1,000 APV for the capital-technology levy, for a combined cost of $2.21 per $1,000 APV. For the owner of a home with an assessed value of $500,000, the annual cost of both 4-year replacement levies would be around $92 a month in 2025, 2026, 2027 and 2028.

The school district estimates that the replacement levies would bring the district between $23.28 million (2025) and $25.44 million (2028).

Levy supporters said they were hopeful Camas voters would see the benefits provided by the supplemental school district funds, and would continue to show support for the school district and its levies.

The Camas community has long supported the school district’s levies. In fact, election results dating back to 2000 show that, before 2021 — when levy support dipped to 53% for the educational programs and operations (EP&O) levy and 56% for the educational technology, health and safety (tech-capital) levy — the “yes” votes for Camas School District’s replacement levies ranged between 61% in 2010, following the Great Recession, to 68% (EP&O) and 69% (tech-capital) in 2017.

“Strong schools facilitate strong communities,” Patrick Hennessey, the co-chair of the pro-levy Camas Citizens for Quality Schools group, told The Post-Record last month. “If they have children, people choose where they live based on schools, and companies choose to invest where they know their working families will have good schools.”

Camas School District Superintendent John Anzalone said he was celebrating the election results with some school district staff and a couple members of the school board Tuesday evening.

This was Anzalone’s first crack at passing the replacement levies and he was cautiously optimistic going into Election Day.

“It went better than I expected, so I’m very happy,” Anzalone, who took over as head of the district in July 2022, said Tuesday night.

Anzalone said he did have a few worries about how the election — which came less than half a year after Camas’ first-ever teachers’ strike — might play out in the community, but that his hopes lifted in the past few weeks, after having more one-on-one conversations with community members and school district stakeholders.

“As we had more conversations about the levy itself … and about where the money goes … I felt like we started to gain momentum,” Anzalone said. “There were more head nods, more smiles. You could feel a positive buzz.”

Anzalone said he hopes that, as the county counts more ballots in the coming days, the margin of support for the district’s two replacement levies will only increase.

“This was my first time at this, so I tried to stay cautiously optimistic throughout,” Anzalone said. “It takes a lot to run (levies on a ballot), but this feels good.”

The county will release its official election results and certify the election Feb. 23.