It would be fair to say that Tuesday was a good day for schools in Kittitas County.

Voters in the Kittitas School District approved a $13.2 million building bond and voters in the the Cle Elum-Roslyn and Damman school districts approved education and maintenance levies.

Traditional school issues fare well in Kittitas County (the Morgan Middle School odyssey stands out as the exception), but it would be wrong to take it for granted that school proposals are a slam dunk.

People, regardless of where they live, support public education — levy failures stand out because they seldom occur. But this state’s roller coaster ride to come into compliance with the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling to fully fund K-12 education can and does cause confusion over what is left or needed for the local tax base to approve.

In regard to the Kittitas bond, that falls outside of the purview of McCleary funding. A construction bond still require a 60% yes vote. The Kittitas bond was at a little over 61 percent as of Tuesday night’s count.

Bonds are tough to pass and they should be. Construction projects tend to be spendy. Kittitas voters likely responded well to the district packaging a lot of needed work in a relatively reasonable $13.2 million bond.

If you were conspiracy-theory minded, you might interpret some state funding decisions of late as pushing toward consolidation of school districts — making the smaller districts harder to maintain financially.

The way small districts — and Kittitas County consists of small school districts — will survive is if taxpayers consistently support the small-district structure. That support requires investment in facilities. That can be a hard call to make for taxpayers so the Kittitas community deserves kudos for stepping and maintaining that commitment its historically shown for its schools.

The state Legislature’s actions to come into compliance with the McCleary ruling did not usher in a utopia of fully funded schools where local voters never needed to bother with another levy.

This election cycle it was Cle Elum-Roslyn and Damman district voters turn to step up and consider the request.

Both district did very well in the levy voting — Cle Elum-Roslyn at 67% and Damman at 83%.

While it would be nice if local levy elections were not needed every two to four years, there is something to be said for districts needing to periodically go out to voters, explain the education program being offered and give voters a chance to weigh in on whether the district is doing its job.

It helps to maintain that community-school connection even for members of the community who do not have children enrolled.

So, while the Tuesday night’s results likely were expected, it is still a night when voters across the county came out to celebrate and support their local districts. Good job.


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