Levies edge ahead early
Second ballot count was Wednesday afternoon
February 16, 2023
The Shelton School District's replacement levy was narrowly passing at 51.6% on the initial ballot count Tuesday evening, while the Pioneer School District's replacement levy was passing at 54.55%.
The results of the second ballot count were scheduled to be released at 4 p.m. Wednesday, after the Journal had gone to print. The results are available at the Mason County auditor's website under "Elections." For approval, the levies need a simple majority of 50%, plus one. Voter turnout in the initial count was 32.54%.
The Shelton School District's levy request on the first count received 2,207 "yes" votes for 51.6%, and 2,070 "no" votes for 48.4%. The Pioneer levy on first count received 1,638 "yes" votes for 54.55%, and 1,365 "no" votes for 45.45%. The measures are scheduled to be certified Feb. 24.
Ninety-six Mason County residents also voted on the Elma School District's bond, which was failing with 37.5% on the first count.
"I want to thank our community for their continuing support of Pioneer Schools," Superintendent Jeff Davis wrote to the Journal in an email. "We can now move forward knowing we have some financial stability for the next four years."
Shelton Superintendent Wyatt Jessee on Wednesday morning told the Journal he is waiting for the afternoon's results before commenting.
In the Pioneer School District, property owners will be assessed an estimated $1.28 for every $1,000 of assessed property value from 2024 through 2027. The owner of a home valued at $300,000 will pay about $384 per year, or about $32 per month, the district states.
The levy will collect $2,802,110 in 2024, $2,886,173 in 2025, $2,972,758 in 2026, and $3,061,940 in 2027.
The district states that levy dollars cover 21% of the overall cost of school district operations. State and federal programs fund almost all of the rest.
In the Pioneer School District, which has about 750 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade, the levy partially or entirely pays for lower class sizes, afterschool academic tutoring for students, athletic programs, transportation costs not covered by the state, music and art education, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs, classroom paraeducator support, reading and math specialists, student field trips, outdoor school, the community garden, counselors, and updated curriculum in reading, math, science and social science.
The levy also pays for support staff not covered by the state, including paraeducators, food service, custodial, building secretaries, and business and personnel operations.
The district's budget for this school year is $14,049,646. The levy pays $2,717,133 of that, with the rest coming from the state ($8,718,688), the federal government ($2,510,765) and other revenue sources ($103,060).
The district has 60 certified staff members, and 58 classified employees. Sixty-seven percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
The Shelton School District's proposed three-year levy is $2.09 per $1,000 of assessed property value. If it passes, the levy will collect $7.1 million in 2024, $7.6 million in 2025 and $8.2 million in 2026. The levy money provides about 11% of the district's budget. If the levy passes, the district will receive about $3 million in additional money from the state in "levy equalization" money.
The district has about 4,400 students in three elementary schools, a middle school, a junior high and three high schools. This year's budget is $78 million.
The replacement levy pays for basic education services and operating expenses not fully paid by the state, including regular classroom and special education teachers, instructional technology, library services, swimming pool and auditorium operation and maintenance, classroom furniture and materials, support for students at risk, facilities repair and maintenance, campus security and school resource officers, and athletics and activities.