INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Two similar ballot questions in two Kansas City-area communities played out very differently Tuesday night.
The Independence School District and Kearney School District both asked voters to approve changes to their tax levies to boost teacher pay, but one ballot question passed and the other failed.
In Kearney, the district proposed a 45-cent property tax increase that would go toward increasing compensation and benefits for employees, as well as improving safety and security.
Kearney leaders said the district currently has the lowest property tax levy of 12 similar KC-area school districts.
But the measure failed 62% to 38%, according to unofficial results in Clay County.
Meanwhile, in Independence, the district asked voters to approve increasing the operating levy by up to 20 cents. But if the measure is approved, the district said it plans to only raise the operating levy by 8 cents, instead of the full 20 cents.
If approved, the district estimates it would generate $9-10 million.
Independence also plans to lower its debt service levy by 40 cents, which would decrease the district’s overall tax levy by 32 cents.
On Tuesday, voters in the Independence passed this measure 70% to 30% — a drastic difference from the results in Kearney.
Independence plans to implement the salary increases starting in the 2024-25 school year.
Last December, the school board voted to move to a four-day school week in the 2023-24 school year to retain teachers and attract more staff to the district.