‘Disappointing’ election results has school district in rural Snohomish County revising levy proposals

A school district in Snohomish County is scrambling to find a way to maintain staff, resources, and programs. Results of Tuesday’s primary election show voters turned down two levies drafted by Lakewood School District that would have paid for the expenses. It’s the second time in 2020 families did not vote to approve either bond proposal.

“As a district, we are devastated emotionally,” said Scott Peacock, superintendent of Lakewood School District. “We really paired things down to what was most essential this time and we still got this result, which made it all the more disappointing.”

One four-year levy would have paid for expenses not covered by state funding. This includes resources like school nurses, support staff for students with special needs, counselors, transportation maintenance, athletics, band, and theater programs. The original proposal failed in February, and again after revision during the primary election.

“If we want those and they are essential to what it means to be a community built around schools, then those are things that local tax dollars pay for,” said Peacock. “There are a lot of people who believe that the state fully funds education, when in fact that is not true. There are a lot of programs that simply aren’t funded by the state, nurses being a classic example. We certainly don’t get state funding for activities— band, choir, athletics, football games on Friday nights.”

A two-year technology levy would have paid to maintain programming for laptops, curriculum support, and staff professional development. Peacock said the program proved to be a vital resource after schools closed under the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” mandate to reduce the exposure of COVID-19.

The superintendent said both of the levies that currently pay for these resources and programs will expire at the end of 2020. Peacock said the disappointing election results now put the district in a race against time to come up with new proposals.

“We’re going to have to go back and re-examine the needs that we are identified in our district, both in terms of the learning experience and in terms of staffing and facilities. And all of that will go into consideration in what we ask for next,” said Peacock.

The superintendent said the district is in the early stages of constructing new proposals. Those updated plans will be announced at a later date. Should voters turn down those levies as well, Peacock said resources and programs will face deep cuts in 2021, and some of them might be removed all together.

Lakewood School District serves approximately 2,500 students. The district has five campuses—three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school located throughout Marysville and Arlington.