Cheney capital facilities measure on its way to passage
Last updated 11/14/2019 at 9:25am
By JOHN McCALLUM
CHENEY – In a dramatic turnaround, the Cheney School District’s $4.27 million capital facilities levy has gone from a losing proposition to apparent passage.
As of Tuesday, Nov. 12, ballot Proposition 1 was passing by a comfortable 53.48 – 46.52 percent margin. On election night, Nov. 5, the proposition was failing by 22 votes, with 50.25 percent voting no, 2,189 – 2,167.
There were also 223 under votes, voters who either neglected or refused to cast a vote for the measure that would spend $1.7 million on land purchases, including another elementary school, and $2.3 million in technology upgrades for students and staff. A recent demographic study done for the district indicated enrollment could virtually double to 9,076 students by 2029, prompting a need for more schools.
The district passed a $78 million capital facilities bond in 2010 that build two new middle schools and an elementary school – aided by state matching funds – and a $52 million capital facilities bond in 2017 to renovate and expand three elementary schools and the high school. The district recently purchased 11.5 acres of land in northwest Airway Heights for a new elementary school, but officials are forecasting a need for another elementary school soon, either near Airway Heights or somewhere on the West Plains.
Some Airway Heights residents and elected officials have recently begun pushing the school district to build a second high school in or near the city.
In other election results, the Cheney School Board won’t be seeing an infusion of new blood anytime soon as two contested races appear headed in favor of the incumbents.
Current school board member Henry Browne had won re-election over challenger James (Sonny) Weathers in the Director No. 3 seat representing Airway Heights, winning by a comfortable 56.40 – 41.75 percent, although there were 2,476 under votes. In the Director No. 5 race, first-term incumbent Mitch Swenson held a comfortable 59.71 – 38.67 percent margin over challenger Bill Johns for the seat representing the Marshall/Windsor areas of the West Plains. That race also had 2,150 under votes.
School Board President Stacy Nicol was unchallenged in her race for re-election to Director No. 4, representing north Cheney.
In contested Cheney City Council races, two-term incumbent Jill Weiszmann was on her way to a third Position No. 6 term, holding a 63.26 – 36.24 margin over challenger Allen Gainer. In the race for Position No. 7, Dan Hilton was on his way to a second term with a 58.24 – 40.51 lead over challenger Dan Hillman.
Councilman Ryan Gaard and Vince Barthels were unopposed in their bids for re-election. Finally, incumbent Sharon Colby held a 55.51 – 43.00 percent margin over challenger Michael Heiydt in the race for Spokane County Fire District 3 Commissioner No. 1.
As of press time Nov.12, 9,600 ballots remained to be counted by Spokane County election officials, with 44.17 percent of voters turning out countywide.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.