Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Medical Lake levy adds up

Most recent school shooting in Florida speeds up security improvement timeline


February 22, 2018

As school levy approval inched ahead by a slightly larger margin in two measures on the Feb. 13 ballot in the Medical Lake School District, the pace quickened on how some of the money will be spent.

That comes as result of the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Florida where 17 people died.

Medical Lake presented a pair of ballot propositions to voters, one an educational programs and operations levy with the second dedicated to a variety of capital projects. Following a second count of votes on Feb. 15, Proposition 1 increased slightly to nearly 64 percent approval, up from 62.5 percent on election night.

Residents will pay $1.50 per $1,000 in property valuation for a levy that will replace one currently in place and charging $1.95 per $1,000. The funds raised cover a variety of things including athletics, band, transportation, nurses and more.

Proposition 2, a 40-cents per $1,000 request that will pay for a variety of safety, security and facility upgrades like floors and roofs, added about 1 percent to its approval and now has 64.59 yes votes. The district will collect 6 percent in the first three years, about $367,000, and 3 percent in the final three years.

But money will not come in until early 2019 and district officials know that critical security and safety updates need to be done immediately, if not sooner with the latest school shooting.

“We’re going to speed up our timeline,” Superintendent Tim Ames said.

Ames met Feb. 20 with representatives from finance, technology and maintenance to learn more about initial steps and analyze the cost of the process and steps that can be taken to increase school security.

“We’ve already priced out what it will cost to do buzz-in systems, especially middle school and high school,” Ames said.

A decision will be made to take general fund dollars to pay for these improvements, knowing the money does not arrive until about this time in 2019.

“Things that happen around the nation like Florida, it just concerns everybody,” Ames said. “It puts us on alert, it puts parents and kids on alert.”

Following the Valentine’s Day incident, the district issued a letter to parents that addressed the steps that will be taken in the near future. That includes working with Safer Schools Together which assists in a variety of tasks, notably helping with monitoring social media and digital threat assessment.

A meeting is planned in the spring with parents throughout the district to learn more.

“One thing I’ve learned, and that you see in all these (situations) is that there was some sort of red flag almost 100 percent of the time,” Ames said.

And the words heard over and over — perhaps to the point of people being somewhat tone deaf to the message — are “See something, say something,” urging the public to connect with the proper authorities with any threats they may have observed.

That idea was put into practice a few weeks ago when a threat on social media was discovered following the expulsion of a couple of people from a Medical Lake High School basketball game. “Within three hours that thing was controlled and shut down,” Ames said.

While the priorities for use of the capital projects levy have not changed, the pace in which they will take place has, Ames assured.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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