Election Night

Auditor Larry E. Grove prepares to seal a ballot box inside the Lewis County Historical Courthouse Tuesday evening just as the clock strikes eight.

The Centralia School District Levy is failing with 52 percent voting ‘no’ after the first results were released by the Lewis County Auditor’s Office on Tuesday evening. A total of 5,532 citizens voted.

The levy was on that ballot at a rate of $2.00 per $1,000 in assessed property value. The current levy ends in December of 2020 and this levy would replace it. 

This is the second time this year the school district has put a levy on the ballot. In February, voters rejected the levy at a rate of $2.50 per $1,000 in assessed property value with a 69 percent ‘no’ vote.

“Obviously we were hoping for something different. It’s disappointing because we know it impacts our services to our kids but we swung almost 19 percent from where we were before. We are thankful and appreciative of those that supported us,” Centralia School District Superintendent Dr. Lisa Grant said.

Grant thanked the Citizens for Centralia Schools, the Centralia Foundation, staff and parents that worked on the campaign. 

“We are persistent and we know that we have work to do to make improvements and build trust and we will continue to do that. We will regroup because our kids need and deserve our support. We’re moving in the right direction. We are thankful for the 48 percent that did vote yes,” she said.

The levy would provide $5.3 million to the school district for the 2021-22 school year.

The district had the levy on the ballot for the April special election but later removed it after the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent school closure.

Since the levy failed earlier this year, the school district has publicized a projected shortfall in their 2020-2021 school year budget of $11.9 million — a portion of which is due to lost levy revenue. 

Citizens have expressed concerns about approving the levy citing questions about school district transparency regarding the budget, particularly due to an average 24 percent raise that the school board awarded teachers when approving teacher contracts in late 2018 as the district was already facing a budget deficit upwards of $2 million.

On Monday, Lewis County Public Health & Social Services Health Officer Dr. Rachel Wood has recommended that all public and private schools in Lewis County offer distance only learning for the start of the 2020-21 school year. 

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