CHIMACUM — Chimacum School District voters have approved a $7.95 million capital project levy.
In the initial count Tuesday night, 2,504 votes, or 57.68 percent approved the measure. That was more than the 50 percent plus one needed for approval. A second count is scheduled for Thursday.
When the tally was read Tuesday night, Superintendent Rick Thompson broke into a smile and the crowd gathered at the Jefferson County Courthouse cheered and applauded.
“I had a good feeling based on our historical average with levies,” said Thompson on Wednesday morning. “But you never know for sure.”
His biggest concern was possible confusion with the McCleary decision funding. In June, the state Supreme Court declared that the state had implemented its funding program after finding, in 2012, that basic K-12 education was being underfunded.
“McCleary provided funding for education, not for buildings,” Thompson said. “Local taxpayers bear the burden of facilities and that’s hard sometimes.”
On the list of immediate work are electrical upgrades, replacing floors and upgrading the fire alarm system.
“There’s a lot to do to get all the projects done. We’re taking it slow and steady,” Thompson said.
Beginning in 2019 and running through 2024, the estimated levy rate per $1,000 in assessed value would begin at $0.677 and decrease to $0.614. Each year the levy amount would be $1.325 million.
Thompson said that 15 out of the 16 precincts voted favorably for the Chimacum measure, with only Port Ludlow 2 coming up short by five votes during the first count. He said the numbers will change before all the votes are counted, but he takes this as a positive sign.
“It’s always reassuring to know community members support schools, ” he said.
“When we started this process, we hired a consultant to take a look at our facilities and tell us what needed to be done. It gave us a good road map,” Thompson said.
“Then we looked at election dates and decided to go for a summer vote. We were a bit concerned with all of the names on the ballot and the fact we were on the back side.”
He said that traditionally, school levies are run in the winter or spring, but the district chose to go for August. If the levy had not passed, the district would have missed the deadline for the next possible opportunity in the spring because of deadlines and filing periods.
Going forward, Thompson said the district will focus on obtaining state grant funding for other projects that are not at the top of the list.