Thursday Update: Today's ballot count updates show Yelm's levy increased 0.3 percent to 51.96 percent approval.
Superintendent Brian Wharton said that new number brings confidence and a sigh of relief.
"We're really excited. That's a safe number now," he said following a Yelm Community Schools board study session. "We're very relieved and thankful for the hard work, and for the community that will give us four more years of stable funding."
So far, 6,748 ballots have been counted; 3,506 votes have been recorded in favor of the measure and 3,242 votes were against.
Rainier School District's levy approval saw a noteworthy jump as well. The district's levy now stands at 59.72 percent approval, gaining 0.8 percent since election night.
"I would like to thank our Rainier community for helping us make a difference in our schools; with your support we will continue to have great schools in Rainier," Superintendent Bryon Bahr wrote in a note to the Citizens for Rainier Schools Facebook page.
Election results will be certified in Thurston and Pierce counties on Feb. 21.
Wednesday Update: With Wednesday's updated count, the Yelm school levy has gained on its initial support of 50.89 percent of voters. The new tally shows 51.67 percent of voters supporting the levy. This story will be updated.
Yelm voters were left with a cliffhanger Tuesday night as initial results showed the Yelm Community Schools levy barely passing with 50.89 percent voter approval after initial counts in Thurston and Pierce counties.
As of Tuesday evening, all three local school operation levies — Yelm, Rainier and Tenino — were shown as passing the 50 percent threshold needed for approval.
But with updated numbers expected Wednesday, supporters of the Yelm school levy ended the night with both a sense of unease and optimism. There are an estimated 39,264 ballots left to count in Thurston County overall. So far, 224,990 ballots have been counted.
“I think, in all, we’re going to say that this was a win,” Citizens for Support of Yelm Schools Chair Tracie Choate said to levy supporters Tuesday night during a gathering at the Puget Sound Entertainment Center. “I’m proud of how we came together and made this come together as a community. Thank you, everybody.”
Thurston County voters approved of the levy with 51 percent of the vote, while results from Pierce County voters show only 45 percent approval.
Tuesday night’s results show 849 votes counted in Pierce County, with 383 “yes” votes and 466 “no” votes. In Thurston County, 2,366 “yes” votes and 2,186 “no” votes were counted.
“I’ve never seen so many people engaged; I’ve never seen so many people answer back some of the crazy things that get said about schools, or government, or whatever it is; and I’m really, really, really proud of our citizens committee who took on this incredible job of having to explain what levies are,” Superintendent Brian Wharton said.
Last year, Yelm voters approved a bond to rebuild two schools and install district-wide safety upgrades. Wharton noted how difficult it was to persuade voters to pass a replacement levy following the bond approval.
If passed, Yelm’s levy will be used for non-state funded programs, which include “teachers, paraeducators, nurses, counselors, safety staff, special education, graduation readiness, technology, athletics and extracurricular activities,” according to pre-ballot paperwork submitted to OSPI by the district.
Rainier School District
Rainier’s levy was passing Tuesday evening with 58.98 percent approval, initial results from the Thurston County Auditor’s Office showed. So far, 1,118 have been counted, with 660 voting in favor of the levy and 458 voting against.
There was 1 undervote recorded.
If passed, Rainier’s replacement levy will pay for “maintenance and operations, athletics, extracurricular activities, administrative support, nursing, child nutribution services, special education, remediation programs, teachers, classified staff, counselors, librarian and CTE programs,” the district’s pre-ballot paperwork states.
Tenino School District
Tenino’s levy was shown as passing Tuesday with 55.96 percent voter approval.
There were 2,096 ballots recorded so far, with 1,173 voting in favor and 923 voting against the measure.
If passed, the levy will fund art, music, robotics, library services, nursing, counseling and school safety initiatives at Parkside and Tenino Elementary Schools. It will also fund music, athletics, library services, nursing, honors programs, counseling, school safety initiatives and extracurriculars at Tenino Middle School and Tenino High School.