Toppenish High School

Toppenish High School. 

A $10 million capital improvement levy for the Toppenish School District that would mean new classrooms and a gym at the high school does not appear to have garnered the necessary votes, according to preliminary ballot counts Tuesday night.

The measure had a 47.29% vote in favor in the initial count, or 271 to 302. To pass, the capital improvement levy would require a simple majority of just over 50%.

Toppenish Superintendent John Cerna said he was disappointed but that there was still a chance that additional late ballots could swing the vote.

“It’s a 30-vote swing right now, so we can only be optimistic that there were some late voters, late ballots that will come in,” he said.

If passed, the new levy would raise property taxes within district boundaries, adding $2.50 per $1,000 property value, or $500 annually for a home valued at $200,000. The six-year levy would be matched with $6 million in funds approved by the state in April. The entire project would cost $16 million.

The tax would cover renovations at the high school that would span 35,000 square feet, adding four classrooms, a commons area, locker rooms, a school store for concessions or merchandise, and a 3,000-seat gymnasium with three basketball courts. The current gym seats about 800.


If the vote holds and the measure does not pass, Cerna said, the district would consider rerunning the levy in February and work to motivate local voters.

“We need to get our community to get out and vote more,” he said. “We have 5,000 voters and when we get less than 600, there’s a major problem.”

The levy effort was a follow-up attempt to a failed $17 million bond measure the district ran in 2015 that would have covered major renovations at the middle school, a new classroom wing at an elementary school and the new gymnasium at the high school.

Reach Janelle Retka at or on Twitter: @janelleretka