Centralia City Council passes resolution supporting school district replacement levy


With all upcoming Feb. 13 ballots in the mail as of Thursday, Jan. 25, according to the Lewis County Auditor’s Office, the Centralia City Council unanimously passed a resolution during its Jan. 22 meeting in support of one of the measures on those ballots — the Centralia School District’s educational programs and operations replacement levy.

This will be the third time the school district has attempted to pass a replacement levy, with two failed attempts in special elections last year to get voter approval.

The current levy expired at the end of 2023.

The school district is now asking for voters to approve a two-year levy at an estimated rate of $1.15 per $1,000 of assessed property value, raising approximately $6,200,000 in 2025 and 2026, as opposed to the $1.50 per $1,000 the district was asking for last year, as previously reported by The Chronicle.

During public comment, Centralia resident Norman Chapman spoke out in support of the replacement levy, noting the city is projected to continue growing.

“Our children and grandchildren’s educational future is at stake,” Chapman said. “The voice of the voters has been heard loud and clear through past levy failures.”

He added, under the leadership of Centralia School District Superintendent Lisa Grant, which began in 2020, the district has begun to better manage taxpayer funds.

“Painful lessons have been learned. This is a new day, a new era,” Chapman said.

Chapman acknowledged current economic conditions and inflation made any levy a “tough pill to swallow.”

“Local schools and students deserve better. Until the (state) Legislature fixes the funding model, local taxpayers must support the levy,” he added.

While the resolution of support was passed unanimously by the Centralia City Council, Mayor Kelly Smith Johnston and Councilor Sarah Althauser were not in attendance to vote during the meeting.

The Centralia School District replacement levy is one of 11 levies and capital bonds school districts and local municipalities are looking to pass on the Feb. 13 special election.

To read about the other levies and capital bonds on the upcoming special election ballot, read The Chronicle’s previous coverage of it here https://bit.ly/3UeQMmn.

For overseas and military ballots, the signature on the ballot declaration must be dated by election day, and must be returned to the Lewis County Auditor’s Office — located at 351 NW North St. in Chehalis — at least one day before the election certification.

Ballots can also be returned via fax or email and must be received by 8 p.m. on election day.

For more information, visit https://elections.lewiscountywa.gov/current-election/.

Voters can check their voter registration status and voter registration address and register to vote online at www.votewa.gov.