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home : premium content : news May 24, 2016

2/21/2013 10:38:00 AM
School levy passes by wide margin
Money used to sustain technology

Ian Dunn

Voters in the Cascade School District have overwhelmingly approved the Cascade School District's Maintenance and Operations Levy. On Feb. 12, the district received 68 percent support for the four year levy, easily over the 50 percent threshold required.

"It was fun to hit the refresh button on the county elections website," said Steve McKenna, Cascade superintendent. "We had over two-thirds majority vote in support of schools. That's just a fabulous feeling."

The approved levy is a 27 cent increase over the previous, amounting to $1.48 per thousand of assessed valuation in 2014, $1.46 in 2015, $1.45 in 2016 and $1.43 in 2017. The decrease over the years is due to the anticipated rise in property values in the district, now estimated over $3 billion.

The district will receive roughly $3.3 million each year. In comparison, the district is collecting $2.4 million in 2013.

"I shared with staff it is really a celebration anytime a levy passes. The true fact is the community recognizes this is a vital part of our operating budget," he said. "It would be difficult to run our school without it, if not impossible."

The district favored the four year levy over the two year, not only for the steady income it provides, but also because it saves the expense of paying for another election two years down the road, which costs around $20,000.

Levy dollars are targeted to instructional support (35 percent), co-and-extra curricular support (20 percent), employee support (17 percent), district learning improvement (16 percent) and student safety (12 percent).

District voters also passed a technology levy a year ago to upgrade the technology in the district. McKenna plans to use the M&O levy proceeds to keep that technology current.

"We can do some planning and try to accomplish some lofty goals. Things like student safety and sustaining technology," he said. "Putting a sustainability plan in place for the technology is very exciting."

The district is currently working on a long range plan to improve the aging facilities in the district. But, in terms of a bond to build or upgrade schools, McKenna said they have no plans run anything until after the levy expires in 2015 at the earliest.

"In the interim, we've developed some short term goals and projects we are working on. We'll continue to do that, around technology and facility repairs," he said. "We want to garner the trust of the community that when we say we are going to do something, we do it. Eventually, we'll be coming in with a citizen's plan to upgrade the buildings."

As it turns out, there was an all district meeting planned for the day after the election. McKenna said there was a lot of celebration when he announced the levy results.

"People were pretty jazzed. I appreciate all the efforts of the citizen's committee and also the community," he said. "You earn that vote years ahead by the hard work of the staff. I view this as our community supporting the hard work the staff does with the kids in the community. That is an awesome feeling."

Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or

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