Voters in Selah and Toppenish have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to turn in their ballots in special school elections.
As of Monday, 25% of voters had cast ballots, according to the Yakima County Auditor’s Office. Red ballot drop boxes are available at Selah City Hall, the Yakima County courthouse, Parker, Sunnyside and in Toppenish at 401 Fort Road (Yakama Nation office parking lot) and 21 W. First Ave. Mailed ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday.
The two school districts have education programs and operations levies on the ballot. If approved, they will replace existing levies expiring at the end of 2021. To pass, they need 50% plus one vote.
The levies are used to fund programs beyond basic education. In Toppenish, that includes arts, preschool upgrades, technology, safety, graduation specialists, additional classroom support, robotics programs, field trips and maintenance, said Superintendent John Cerna.
In Selah, all sports are funded by the levy, as well as all technology, safety, instructional materials and more, according to Superintendent Shane Backlund. The levy would bring in $7.45 million over two years, to be matched with state funds. The adjusted levy amount is estimated to cost voters $1.50 per $1,000 property value, compared to $1.55 pitched in February. Backlund said it is the lowest rate the district can bring in without decreasing the amount of state matching funds brought in by the district.
Toppenish is asking voters to approve an $8.9 million levy over four years that would be matched with about $24 million in state funds over the same period, Cerna said. The annual levy amount increases gradually from $1.42 million to $1.54 million over the four years, but is pitched to cost voters $2 per $1,000 property value under the premise that property value increases over time.
Voters approve levy amounts, not rates, which are estimates.