PORT ANGELES — Marc Jackson and Diana Reaume weren’t quite banging pots and pans in celebration Wednesday and running up and down the hallways of the school districts they lead in Port Angeles and Forks.
But Jackson, Port Angeles schools superintendent, and Reaume, Quillayute Valley schools superintendent, were feeling good.
Voters in their respective districts Tuesday approved property tax levies in a manner so resounding — far above the required simple majority of 50 percent plus one vote — that both hope the enthusiasm will carry over to future funding measures.
In Port Angeles, Jackson said that request could come as soon as Nov. 7 or February 2018.
“We really needed this success story after getting really knocked around on [the 2015] bond,” Jackson said, referring to the $98.25 million construction bond that voters defeated in February 2015 by failing to give 60 percent approval.
Jackson said he expects the school board later this spring to begin discussing a four-to-six-year, $50 million capital levy that would require a simple majority voter approval, which the 2015 bond barely exceeded with 50.32 percent voter approval.
“There is momentum here,” Jackson said. “When you do these things, you never know how they’re going to turn out.
“I believe our community has spoken that they really would like to move this ball forward in terms of capital facilities.”
In Port Angeles, 5,413 voters, or 69.15 percent, approved a $36.4 million, four-year education programs and operation replacement levy — 22 percent of the operating budget — in the initial count of ballots Tuesday.
Just 2,415 voters, or 30.85 percent, voted no.
Clallam County Elections Supervisor Ken Hugoniot said Wednesday his office Friday will count at least 800 more ballots from the Port Angeles School District’s 20,835 active voters, yielding a turnout as of Wednesday of 41.4 percent.
In the Forks-area Quillayute Valley School District, 619 voters, or 63.55 percent, approved as of Tuesday a $714,304-per-year, four-year replacement maintenance and operations levy — 13 percent of the operating budget matched by the state’s $3.18 million annual infusion of funding.
That compares to 355 voters, or 36.44 percent, who voted no.
Hugoniot said his office Friday will count at least 200 more ballots from the Quillayute Valley School District’s 3,290 active voters, yielding a turnout as of Wednesday of 29.9 percent.
Reaume said the Forks community’s support of the levy was in keeping with votes on past Quillayute levy measures.
“We love that when it comes to our children, we take care of our children, whether it’s a school auction or any of the entities that raise funds around learning and extracurricular activities,” Reaume said.
“It’s the feel-good part of Forks.”
The Quillayute levy rate is estimated at $1.48 per $1,000 of valuation, or $222 annually for the owner of a $150,000 home.
Reaume said about $6 million is left on an $11 million 2010 school bond that is paying for a high school addition that will be paid off in either 2020 or 2021.
That gives the district about five years to plan a funding measure for the next big replacement-building project, Forks Intermediate School, Reaume said.
“That’s what our taxpayers can be assured of: a really solid plan so we can deliberately figure out what’s next that the community can really rally on.”
The estimated levy rate for 2018 for the Port Angeles levy will be $3.30 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation, or $660 for the owner of a $200,000 home.
The estimated rates in subsequent years will be $3.26 in 2019, $3.23 in 2020 and $3.20 in 2021.
In 2016, the levy rate was $3.20 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $640 a year for a $200,000 home.
Jackson said he’s hoping the community marshals the same forces for approval of a capital levy later this year or early next year that would move sixth-graders from Franklin, Hamilton, Dry Creek, Jefferson and Roosevelt elementary schools to an expanded Stevens Middle School, opening up room at the elementary schools.
Simultaneously, new science classrooms would be built at Port Angeles High School.
It would be less ambitious than the failed 2015 levy but more in keeping with the smaller-scale improvements that the community in effect has been telling the district it wanted.
“The [school] board is looking at that now,” Jackson said.
“They really wanted a strong showing with the levy, they wanted to see how citizens feel about the job we’re doing and we heard from our citizens, and they are really appreciative and like the work we’re doing.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].