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MACCRAY levy passes 701-325; both questions pass in RCW

Toni Vick of rural Raymond casts her ballot Tuesday at MACCRAY East Elementary School in Raymond. Voters in the MACCRAY School District approved replacing an existing $501-per-pupil levy with a $1,101-per-pupil levy. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

Voters in the MACCRAY and Renville County West school districts approved new operating levies Tuesday.

MACCRAY's operating levy was approved by a 2-1 margin, 701 yes votes to 325 no votes. The referendum question asked voters to increase the levy to $1,100.03 per pupil for 10 years, an increase of $600 per pupil.

In RCW, the voters approved two questions. The first question renews and increases an existing levy that was about to expire. It passed on a vote of 641 to 477. The second question for a three-year levy for building maintenance passed 611 to 508.

Question 1 revokes two existing levies that total $1,209.97 and replaces it with a new levy of $1,500 per student per year for seven years.

Question 2 raises $300 per pupil each year for three years, about $223,000 a year, which will be used to make improvements to the district's school building in Renville.

Superintendents in both districts said they appreciated the support of their communities, particularly during a recession.

MACCRAY Superintendent Greg Schmidt said he was encouraged by the vote. The margin is "huge, under the circumstances."

All three communities in the district -- Maynard, Clara City and Raymond -- voted in favor of the levy, he said.

The district had more than 1,000 voters cast ballots in the four hours the polls were open, "which I think is amazing," he said. The levy question was the only one on the ballot in MACCRAY.

"It will certainly prevent us from having to make any dramatic moves next year," Schmidt said.

A large senior class will be graduating next spring, and a much smaller kindergarten class is expected to come in behind them. Because of that drop in enrollment, there may be some budget cuts, but they won't be as dramatic as some the district saw in recent years, Schmidt said.

"I'm so glad people support education and our children," said RCW Superintendent Lance Bagstad.

Both levies will be important to the district, he said.

The first question continues a portion of the levy that would have expired and gives the district funding to deal with an uncertain future of state funding.

"It gives us some consistency, I hope," Bagstad said. "The main thing is we want to maintain our programs, our offerings that we have for our kids."

The second question will help the district tend to some maintenance needs in the school building in Renville. The district closed its elementary school in Sacred Heart last spring and moved all students into the Renville building. A middle school in Danube closed several years ago.

The building needs work done to its boilers and roofs, as well as electrical and plumbing systems.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340