Brinnon, Queets Clearwater school district levies on way to final approval

PORT TOWNSEND — The superintendents of two small Jefferson County school districts said Wednesday they were excited to see both of their levies passing in the initial count of ballots Tuesday night.

The proposed two-year Brinnon School District levy received 286 votes, or 60.85 percent, approving it and 184 votes, or 39.15 percent, rejecting it.

The proposed three-year Queets Clearwater School District replacement levy received 10 votes, or 58.82 percent, approving it and 7 votes, or 41.18 percent, rejecting it.

As of Tuesday, 471 voters out of 1,014 registered had returned ballots in the Brinnon School District for a voter turnout of 46.45 percent. In the Queets Clearwater School District, 17 of 104 voters had returned ballots, a turnout of 16.35 percent.

Both measures required a 50 percent plus one majority for approval.

The Jefferson County Auditor’s Office counted a total of 488 ballots Tuesday with none left on hand uncounted. Ballots mailed to registered voters numbered 1,118, so the voter turnout was 43.65 percent.

The next count will be by 3 p.m. Friday.

Voters in the Brinnon School District were asked to continue paying the same tax levy they paid in 2017 — with a cost of living increase in 2019 — while voters in the Queets Clearwater School District near Lake Quinault were considering a $70,000 maintenance and operations levy that would extend through 2021.

“I’m appreciative of the support of our community and I just want to thank them for supporting the children of our community,” said Trish Beathard, superintendent of the Brinnon School District.

She said the two-year levy is vital to the district’s programs. It allows the school to have a preschool program, have extra help in classrooms and to provide swimming lessons to each student.

Under the proposal, in 2018, the Brinnon School District would levy $1.16 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, meaning the owners of a $200,000 home could expect to pay about $232. That would be expected to raise $314,681 for the district.

In 2019, the Brinnon School District would levy about $1.19 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, meaning the owners of a $200,000 home could expect to pay $238. That would be expected to raise $320,975.

“The most important thing the levy does is it allows us to provide a high quality education to every student,” Beathard said.

The district teaches students through eighth grade. The district has about 85 students, four teachers and a part-time preschool teacher.

Rick Rohlman, superintendent of the Queets Clearwater School District, said he is thankful the levy appears to be passing and that it is vital to the district’s budget.

“Historically we’ve been pretty strong with passing levies around here and the amount we ask for is the same as has been requested for a number of years,” he said.

“It really helps our operations out here and we’re thankful it’s passing at this point.”

The Queets Clearwater School District maintenance and operations levy would collect about $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation and would raise $75,000.

That would cost about $300 for a $200,000 home and would be collected in 2019 through 2021.

The district has a single school that houses students up to eighth grade. After that, students typically go to Lake Quinault School District for high school.

The district only has 19 students, a decline of about five students from last year. Funding is associated with enrollment, which makes the levy even more important, Rohlman said.

The district operates on about $1 million a year, making the levy about 7 percent of the annual budget. Much of the budget goes toward staff and maintaining the school’s 48-year-old building.

“It’s a significant chunk,” Rohlman said. “We replaced a water heater last week and it was not quite $10,000.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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