School measures approved

Levies were approved by voters Tuesday in Columbia, Dayton and Pomeroy school districts.

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Voters in Burbank, Dayton and Pomeroy approved measures seeking funds for school maintenance and operation in Tuesday's special election.

Two separate levies in Columbia School District easily passed, based on preliminary election results made available Tuesday night.

A four-year maintenance and operations levy to support basic education passed with 63 percent of votes, according to the Walla Walla County website. Results show 564 voting yes and 336, or 37 percent, voting no.

The levy will dedicate $1.95 million a year to general expenses from 2012 through 2015, and extends the funding of an existing two-year levy that expires Dec. 31. Levy funds help pay for smaller class sizes, instructional materials, extracurricular and athletic activities, and other general costs like maintaining buildings and grounds.

Residents also approved a levy to support the cost of technology improvements in the district. It passed with 60.9 percent of the votes, or 556 yes votes, while 357, or 39.1 percent, were against it, according to the results. The technology levy secures $275,000 a year over four years to maintain technology in classrooms, and also replaces a two-year levy set to expire at the end of the year.

In Columbia County, Dayton School District's bid for a $250,000 one-year supplemental maintenance and operation levy passed with 55 percent approval, or 707 yes votes to 576, or 45 percent no votes.

School officials hope the supplement will help offset cuts to district funds by the cuts in the state's school funding, as well as an enrollment downturn.

Superintendent Doug Johnson said Tuesday night the margin of yes voters was a little disappointing, but "it's probably to be expected in these times."

"I'll take that as a positive vote and that people still believe in the education system. We just need to keep working hard to communicate with them how their money is being used and how effectively," he said.

Pomeroy School District voters were also supportive of their schools, passing a one-year $661,076 replacement levy by a margin of 57 percent yes, or 470 votes to 43 percent, or 353 no votes.

Pomeroy Superintendent Kim Spacek said the results were good news "because it's always a victory for kids."

With passage of the levy, Spacek said the district is "in pretty solid financial shape." Presently the district's reserve is up, a school modernization project is under way, and state cuts are coming in, he said. The levy "just puts money in the bank to handle whatever the Legislature does."

All levies required a simple majority, or 50 percent of votes, to pass. Election results will be final in all Walla Walla, Garfield and Columbia counties Feb. 23. Outstanding ballots will be counted Feb. 11 in Garfield County.

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