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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Woodland schools measure falls 7 votes short

District expected to be without $3 million in levy funding in 2024

By Griffin Reilly, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 5, 2023, 4:39pm

With the final round of ballots in the April 25 special election now in, it appears Woodland Public Schools’ replacement levy has failed by just 7 votes, 2,036 to 2,043.

The nail-biter election, which also featured two similar funding measures for the Washougal School District, saw the last batches of votes trickle in by the dozens this week, some being cured ballots that had been challenged due to signature issues or damage and others coming in by mail.

Woodland’s second failed levy attempt this year means the district will be without an estimated $3 million in critical supplemental funding next year. The district is primarily in Cowlitz County, with a small portion in Clark County. Voters in Clark County supported the levy, 279 votes to 243, but they weren’t enough to overcome opposition in Cowlitz County.

Likely to be eliminated for the 2023-2024 school year are several classroom and support staff positions, maintenance staff, all nonvarsity and junior varsity athletics and more. The district will also halt planned expansions to programs like speech pathology, dual language, transitional kindergarten and more.

The full breakdown of what Woodland expects to cut can be found on the district’s website at: https://www.woodlandschools.org/page/7491/.

Had it passed, the measure would have collected $18.77 million over three years at an estimated rate of $1.91 per $1,000 assessed property value. It would replace the district’s existing operations levy when it expires at the end of this year.

Having failed at the ballot twice already in 2023, Woodland must now wait until 2024 to run another levy for which the collections would then begin in 2025.

Washougal officially passes

Down in Clark County’s southeast end, the Washougal School District, which also includes voters in Skamania County, passed both its proposed replacement funding measures with flying colors.

Proposition 12 — the replacement educational programs and operations levy — passed with 57.67 percent voting to approve, 4,296 to 3,153.

The levy is expected to collect $31.5 million over 2024, 2025 and 2026 at an estimated rate of $1.99 per $1,000 assessed property value and will support staff salaries and extracurricular student programs like performing arts and athletics.

Proposition 13 — the replacement capital levy for educational technology, health and safety improvements — passed with 56.39 percent voting to approve, 4,101 to 3,171.

That measure is expected to collect $9.05 million over three years at an estimated rate of 21 cents per $1,000 assessed property value in 2024, 84 cents per $1,000 in 2025 and 85 cents per $1,000 in 2026. It would largely cover a replacement for the roof at Washougal High School, among other small upgrade projects throughout the district.

Voter turnout in Clark County amounted to 47.74 percent among 14,886 registered voters, notably higher than the 32.3 percent turnout from the Feb. 14 special election earlier this year. Cowlitz County saw a 44.31 percent turnout and Skamania County saw 45.6 percent turnout.