Monroe Schools to try levy again in fall

MONROE — The Monroe School District will skip April and shoot for November’s ballot for asking voters a second time to continue its local education funding levy. The measure failed to pass in the Feb. 8 election.
April is too soon to bring it back and risks failure, Acting Superintendent Kim Whitworth said last week.
“I do wonder if the community understands there is an impact and they still said, ‘we’re not happy and we’re not voting (in favor)’,” Whitworth said.
The district needs to prove it’s listening to the community, she said, and proposes to launch a listening tour.
Board members such as Molly Barnes agreed. The community needs to see the district is acting to restore trust, Barnes said. “Running in April could be shooting ourselves in the foot ... given the animosity and turmoil in the community.”
Whitworth became acting superintendent in December when the school board put Superintendent Justin Blasko on administrative leave to review his performance. A third-party investigator is looking into allegations of workplace bullying. Discontent about the district mushroomed after a Nov. 10 confrontation in the Monroe High School parking lot against a Black male student by a white male student, a white female student and her father.
Advisers told the district that their historical data shows second-attempt school measures fare poorly in August, but that there’s little difference in April versus November for the chances of passing.
A levy renewal would have accounted for $14.7 million, or about 15% of the district’s annual budget.
Delaying beyond August, though, solidifies that the district will have a gap of about $7 million on paper when developing a balanced budget for the 2022-2023 school year. Districts start their fiscal years each September. The renewing the levy would have guaranteed a continuance of funds during 2023.
The February levy formally failed at 46.71%. It needed 50% approval to pass.
Some areas outside city limits voted upwards of 60% against, precinct data from the county elections office shows.