A $10 million capital improvement levy that would fund new classrooms and a gym at Toppenish High School appears to be passing after more ballots were counted.
Early election returns showed the measure failing, with 47.3% voting in favor in the initial count on election night, or 271 to 302. The levy requires a simple majority of 50% plus one vote to pass.
Before the weekend, the levy gained more support, and on Tuesday an updated preliminary vote showed 52.2% approval of the measure, or 717 to 657.
“The news is really, really good, as far as we’re concerned,” said Superintendent John Cerna. “It sounds really, really promising.”
Cerna said that of the estimated 1,000 votes left to count countywide, he expects just 20 to 30 to be within Toppenish School District lines, making it likely that the levy has safely passed.
If approved, the new levy would raise property taxes within district boundaries, adding $2.50 per $1,000 in assessed value, or $250 annually for a home valued at $100,000 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 existing gym seats about 800.
Cerna said both the classrooms and new gym are necessary.
The gym was originally built in 1972 to house 500 students before renovations in 2004 increased the gym capacity slightly to 800. Now, the high school has about 950 students.
“It’s needed for our kids,” he said. “That’s what’s most important.”
The election will be certified on Nov. 26.