Bellevue backing school building measure
Bellevue School District voters were easily approving the district's largest-ever construction bond measure in early returns Tuesday. The $545 million proposition...
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
Bellevue School District voters were easily approving the district's largest-ever construction bond measure in early returns Tuesday. The $545 million proposition to rebuild three elementary schools, two middle schools and Bellevue High School was winning more than the 60 percent supermajority required for construction measures.
Other school-construction bond measures were going down to defeat in Renton, Snoqualmie Valley and Snohomish school districts. Levy measures in Renton, Auburn and Mercer Island school districts were all being approved under the new state law that allows levies to pass with a simple majority.
Voters in the Snoqualmie Valley School District were turning down a $189.6 million construction bond measure, the third try to build a new high school in North Bend to relieve crowding at Mount Si High School and add an elementary school on Snoqualmie Ridge. After the second defeat of the construction measure in May, the district trimmed $20 million from the proposal and stepped up its voter-education efforts.
"The numbers don't look good. We're in about the same place we were last time," said Jim Reitz, a member of the Valley Voters for Education, the citizens group supporting the bond.
Supporters of the bond issue said they rang doorbells and made phone calls to try to persuade voters. The previous attempts had relied heavily on mailings, Reitz said.
The district expects its enrollment of almost 5,700 students to double over the next 12 years
Mercer Island voters were approving a $9.9 million levy to upgrade classroom technology, train teachers and make building improvements.
Bellevue's 20-year construction bond will fund a $100 million renovation to Bellevue High School, rebuild three elementary schools, and modernize Tyee and Chinook middle schools.
"This city is so aware of what good schools do for a community," said Steve Brown, chairman of the citizens group backing the bond. "We're really pleased."
The proposal is the second phase of an ambitious effort to upgrade all of the district's schools, begun under former Superintendent Mike Riley. The first phase, a $324 million bond measure approved in 2002, paid for construction or renovation to 12 schools.
But sharply rising construction costs meant the district ran out of money before three projects could be completed.
Those three, Ardmore, Cherry Crest and Spiritridge elementary schools, would be the first built under the current bond proposal.
Two levies in the Renton School District were passing in early returns, but a $150 million construction bond measure was falling short of the needed 60 percent.
"We're hoping that poll voters will bring that up," said Renton Superintendent Alice Heuschel. "It's a little discouraging."
The $150 million, 20-year construction bond issue would have funded a 10-classroom addition to Hazen High School and other facilities upgrades across the district.
The levies being approved last night include a $111.5 million four-year replacement program and operations levy, and a $33 million six-year technology levy for new computers, training and wireless Internet connection.
Auburn School District voters were passing a four-year, $113.7 million replacement levy for programs and operations.
The levy funds about 18 percent of the district's operating costs, including special education, transportation, athletics and activities.
The Auburn School Board has traditionally run two-year levies, but decided to run a four-year levy because district growth has leveled off.
The Snohomish School District was falling short of the 60 percent supermajority needed to pass a $261.6 million school-construction measure.
The construction bond would have funded renovations to Snohomish High School, an $85.5 million renovation and expansion of Valley View Middle School, and replacement of two elementary schools.
"It's disappointing," said acting Snohomish Superintendent Betty Robertson.
In other Snohomish County results, city of Sultan voters were overwhelmingly approving annexation into the Sno-Isle Regional Library System.
Snohomish County expects to update results Thursday by 5 p.m. King County will add mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday to its totals before it certifies the election March 26.
Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.