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Parks, school levies win big

South Whidbey parks and school district officials had plenty to celebrate this week with approval of their operations levies by what appears to be more than 70 percent of those who voted.

With nearly 5,000 ballots counted by noon on Friday, administrators and board members from South Whidbey Schools and South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District are high-fiving each other.

South Whidbey schools asked voters to approve two levies.

“This is phenomenal support from the community,” said Assistant Superintendent Dan Blanton. “When some districts in the state are faced with failing levies, we are looking at strong community support.”

Blanton credits efforts of the levy committee and Superintendent Martin Laster, who spoke to 20 different community groups about the importance of levy funding.

“Those efforts showed up in the numbers. People realized how vital both levies are for continuing the level of education here,” Blanton said.

South Whidbey School District asked voters to renew a $3.2 Maintenance and Operations levy and a second capital projects levy to fund building renovation and technology improvements. Without approval of the operations levy, the district would have faced serious program cuts. Both are two-year levies to be collected in 2005 and 2006.

On noon Friday, 3,433 voted for the M and O levy and 1,387 said no. On the capital projects question, there were 3,520 yes votes with 1,255 against funding the renovation The $500,000 capital projects money will finance modernization of school facilities. This proposition authorizes the district to replace flooring at all existing schools, re-roof portions of Langley Middle School and South Whidbey Primary School, purchase and install technology infrastructure at South Whidbey High School.

South Whidbey Park and Recreation District got approval for a four-year maintenance and operation levy to follow an expiring levy, at a rate of $15 or less per $1,000 of assessed valuation for four consecutive years commencing in 2004, for collection in 2005 through 2008. The district has been at the same levy rate for six years while doubling the size of playfields.

Lee McFarland, parks director said he is happy to see the community’s support for parks.

As of noon Friday, there were 3,296 yes votes and 1,408 no votes for the parks levy.

According to the Island County Auditor there are 9,979 registered voters on South Whidbey of those 6,300 receive mail-in ballots.

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