All-mail voting planned for school bond’s 2nd try

Seventy-eight votes. That’s how many more votes the $150 million construction bond for Renton School District needed to pass. The bond was approved by 59.4 percent of district voters in the March 11 election.

  • Saturday, March 29, 2008 5:00pm
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Seventy-eight votes. That’s how many more votes the $150 million construction bond for Renton School District needed to pass. The bond was approved by 59.4 percent of district voters in the March 11 election.

That’s just short of the required 60-percent supermajority. Election results were certified Wednesday.

But district officials are not giving up. Renton School Board voted Wednesday to put the bond back in front of voters on a May 20 ballot. Voters will cast only mail-in votes, with not poll voting.

“It’s just one of those things, we missed it by a slim margin,” says School Board President Al Talley. Supporters just have to work a little harder to get the word out, he added.

District spokesperson Randy Matheson says the citizens’ committee in support of the bond made calls to 14,000 district voters, and nearly all voters said they supported the bond and would cast a yes vote. But only about 13,000 people — 25 percent of registered voters — cast votes in the election.

“What we have to do is work on that apathy,” Matheson says. “That is the piece that fails these bond issues more than anything else.”

The citizens’ committee plans to tweak its outreach approach, Matheson says. The committee has already begun meeting since the bond’s failure.

The district could have waited until next February to again place the bond in front of voters, but Matheson says inflation and the rising cost of construction supplies means the $150 million wouldn’t go as far.

“This is a good time to go forward,” Talley says.

If approved, the bond would be collected over 20 years. It would fund needed construction throughout the district, including a new wing of 10 classrooms at Hazen High School; a new early childhood center; a new secondary learning center; a new roof, plus heating and ventilation work at Lindbergh High School; upgrades at Dimmitt and Nelsen Middle schools; safety and security measures at some elementary schools and a rehaul of Renton Memorial Stadium.

“Most of this work is going to be at middle and high schools,” Matheson says. “They are huge buildings that have been around a very long time.”

The bond, like the two levies passed by voters in the March 11 election, will not raise tax rates. Property taxes will remain about $3.44 for every $1,000 of assessed value. That’s possible because of Renton’s growing tax base.

Matheson and Talley are confident that with just a little more hard work, the May 20 election will garner the required 60 percent of votes. Matheson suspects hundreds of people simply forgot to mail in ballots.

“We’re confident that there are more people out there who support us who will be motivated to follow through with the commitment and mail in that ballot,” Matheson says.

Emily Garland can be reached at emily.garland@reporternewspapers.com or (425) 255-3484, x. 5052.

Seventy-eight votes. That’s how many more votes the $150 million construction bond for Renton School District needed to pass. The bond was approved by 59.4 percent of district voters in the March 11 election.

That’s just short of the required 60-percent supermajority. Election results were certified Wednesday.

But district officials are not giving up. Renton School Board voted Wednesday to put the bond back in front of voters on a May 20 ballot. Voters will cast only mail-in votes, with not poll voting.

“It’s just one of those things, we missed it by a slim margin,” says School Board President Al Talley. Supporters just have to work a little harder to get the word out, he added.

District spokesperson Randy Matheson says the citizens’ committee in support of the bond made calls to 14,000 district voters, and nearly all voters said they supported the bond and would cast a yes vote. But only about 13,000 people — 25 percent of registered voters — cast votes in the election.

“What we have to do is work on that apathy,” Matheson says. “That is the piece that fails these bond issues more than anything else.”

The citizens’ committee plans to tweak its outreach approach, Matheson says. The committee has already begun meeting since the bond’s failure.

The district could have waited until next February to again place the bond in front of voters, but Matheson says inflation and the rising cost of construction supplies means the $150 million wouldn’t go as far.

“This is a good time to go forward,” Talley says.

If approved, the bond would be collected over 20 years. It would fund needed construction throughout the district, including a new wing of 10 classrooms at Hazen High School; a new early childhood center; a new secondary learning center; a new roof, plus heating and ventilation work at Lindbergh High School; upgrades at Dimmitt and Nelsen Middle schools; safety and security measures at some elementary schools and a rehaul of Renton Memorial Stadium.

“Most of this work is going to be at middle and high schools,” Matheson says. “They are huge buildings that have been around a very long time.”

The bond, like the two levies passed by voters in the March 11 election, will not raise tax rates. Property taxes will remain about $3.44 for every $1,000 of assessed value. That’s possible because of Renton’s growing tax base.

Matheson and Talley are confident that with just a little more hard work, the May 20 election will garner the required 60 percent of votes. Matheson suspects hundreds of people simply forgot to mail in ballots.

“We’re confident that there are more people out there who support us who will be motivated to follow through with the commitment and mail in that ballot,” Matheson says.

Emily Garland can be reached at emily.garland@reporternewspapers.com or (425) 255-3484, x. 5052.

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