Battle Ground levy passing

Removal of supermajority apparently clears way for approval

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter

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Stellar night for Clark County schools

BATTLE GROUND — Two little words made all the difference to Battle Ground Public Schools Tuesday evening: plus one.

Without the shift in 2007 from needing a 60 percent supermajority to a simple majority — 50 percent, plus one vote — in levy elections, Battle Ground schools would have failed to garner enough support to pass its three-year maintenance and operations levy.

But, thanks to those two little words, voters appeared to approve the district’s $64.6 million levy 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent, according to unofficial results released Tuesday evening. The early results included 14,769 ballots, or 43 percent of registered voters.

Stellar night for Clark County schools

Despite the slight passage, school officials cheered when the results were released.

“I’m so happy about these results,” Superintendent Shonny Bria said in a phone interview Tuesday evening. “The children in the Battle Ground school district really deserve this.”

Bria said she was confident the remaining ballots to be tallied in the coming days will continue the trend set Tuesday.

School board members Steve Pagel and John Idsinga were pleased with the early results but said it’s still too early to celebrate.

“We’re excited,” Pagel said.

“But still slightly reserved,” Idsinga added.

Both said they won’t be relieved until all of the ballots are in.

Pagel and Idsinga were among a couple dozen principals, teachers, school officials and community members who gathered at Laurelwood Public House & Brewery in Battle Ground to await the results.

Anne Woods, a parent and member of Citizens for Better Schools, said she was cautiously optimistic leading up to the release of the early results. Woods and the group canvassed the community and encouraged voters to support the schools in the months leading up to the election.

As the clock ticked closer to 8:15 p.m., when results were released, Woods grew more and more anxious. But when she read the numbers from the screen of her laptop, a grin spread across her face.

Woods hushed the room and announced the results. The group erupted in applause, cheers and whistles, followed by sighs of relief.

“This levy is more important than any levy we’ve ever done,” Idsinga said after learning the results.

Recent cuts in state funding and expected cuts in the future made approval of this levy especially important, he said. In addition, the district is still recovering from a double-levy failure in 2006, which meant the district didn’t collect any local taxes in 2007.

Approval Tuesday night means the district is moving in the right direction, supporters said.

“This will give positive energy to the teachers, the staff, the patrons, to continue doing the cost-saving measures knowing the patrons and the district are behind them,” board member Monty Anderson said.

Approval of the levy also means the district can continue to focus on the children and their education, Bria said.

“This is a historic moment for the Battle Ground school district,” she said.

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546 or marissa.harshman@columbian.com.