What Can We Learn from the Last Election?

By Erin Vincent, VP of Education and Talent, Greater Spokane Inc.

Most of you will remember that February 13th was Election Day. I spent most of the day nervously counting the minutes until the first results were released. On Election Eve, my seven-year-old daughter was by my side as we gathered with school supporters, and when phones started lighting up with those first results, she was there to see a whole room of adults reflect on what it feels like to know that a community had chosen to invest in kids.

I ended my night cautiously optimistic about levies passing across Spokane County. But my twin emotion? I think it was something close to shock.

School districts across Spokane County have long enjoyed enthusiastic support from our community – and the community continued to support school levies this year. But this February, voters did not support bonds at the 60% super-majority rate required for passage. All five bond measures on the ballot failed. And levy support, while enough for a simple majority, dropped dramatically.

Here is what that drop in levy support looks like in real terms:

  2018 Results2024 Results
Central ValleyEP&O71 %52.81 %
CheneyEP&O61 %55.90 %
Deer ParkEP&O66 %54.69 %
East Valley  53.36 %
FreemanEP&O64 %54.13 %
Great NorthernEP&O80 %69.48 %
LibertyEP&O65 %58.91 %
MeadEP&O70 %53.04 %
Medical LakeEP&O63 %52.40 %
Nine Mile FallsEP&O59 %53.14 %
RiversideEP&O68 %55.35 %
SpokaneEP&O73 %56.31 %
West ValleyEP&O70 %55.54 %

Sitting with this change in support leaves me with a whole lot of questions about our community’s expectations for school districts, willingness to consider local funding for local schools, the general temperature around public education and, of course, the current political climate.

I think it’s worth answering some of those questions and I’d like to suggest that our community does two things right now:

  1. Respond to districts. Fill out a school district survey and help answer the question, “what happened?” If you receive a request from your school district asking for your feedback on the last election, please take the time to respond. Share your reasons for voting, not-voting, voting “yes,” voting “no.” These surveys are anonymous and help to deepen understanding around what voters expect from school districts.
  2. Get closer. Regardless of how you voted in this last election, we all have some work to do to move towards understanding local government in a deeper way. If you have questions about buildings that may have been on ballots, ask for a tour! If you have questions about property taxes or school budgets, get in touch with someone who can help (HINT: I can either help you or connect you with a school district!).

Greater Spokane Inc. cares deeply about the way that our community invests in K-12 Education because education is at the heart of a healthy economy and it is one of the most important assets we have to attract businesses to our community, create new jobs, and ensure we have a strong workforce to fill those jobs. GSI has a strong history of supporting all regional public-school bonds and levies for this reason.

I hope you will join me in thinking about what comes next for school districts in our community. The needs remain, how can we come together to demonstrate our commitment to kids?


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