Yelm district could go out for another levy after latest fails

Significant cuts possible if proposition stalls twice


Yelm Community Schools (YCS) is facing a challenging situation after its measure to replace the education and operations levy failed in the Feb. 13 special election. 

Unofficial results on Friday, Feb. 15 show 2,746 voters, or 53.02%, opposed the proposition, with 2,433 voters, or 46.98% in support.

As a result of the shortcoming, YCS Superintendent Chris Woods said the school board will vote to put another replacement levy on the ballot for the April 23 special election at its next meeting at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 22, at the district office. The news of the proposition being shot down surprised Woods and others in the district.

“I’m very surprised and disappointed. I feel like we’ve let down our staff and students,” he said.

Woods added that the district’s first priority is to determine cost-saving measures for the remainder of the current school year and looking at what potential cuts could be made for next year if the second levy proposition also fails. He said the second proposition won’t be a repeat of the first one, however.

“It’s important for us to be asking questions and listening to the community about how they’re feeling, learning from them and taking suggestions,” he said. “We need to listen to community members and hear strict criticism.”

The levy makes up about 13% of the district’s budget, and YCS was slated to collect a maximum amount of $15.5 million in 2025 in the first year of the four-year levy, if approved. 

If the second levy is not approved, the district would have to cut funding for staffing, art and music programs, equipment, athletics, activities, and mental and physical health services. “Everything within the district is on the table” when it comes to potential cuts, according to Woods, but those discussions will begin at Thursday’s school board meeting. 

Despite the outcome of the special election, Woods is confident that the district will push through and find a way to support its students and staff.

“We’re gonna make it through this stronger than we were before. We’ve got great people here to figure out how to solve this, but we have difficult decisions to make,” Woods said. “Reducing spending can be challenging, especially halfway through the school year, but we have to look at everything, and we need to focus on students and what they need.”