Issaquah School District voters pass $219 million bond issue
April 17, 2012
By Tom Corrigan
UPDATED — 9:55 p.m. April 17, 2011
The results are preliminary, far from final. But the question seems pretty much decided.
According to unofficial results from King County, local residents are voting heavily in favor of allowing the Issaquah School District to sell $219 million in bonds to fund capital improvement projects throughout the district.
Numbers issued by King County at just after 8 p.m. Tuesday show the bond issue is passing easily with 13,476 votes in favor compared to 6,006 votes against, or 69.1 percent to 30.8 percent.
The Issaquah school issue needs to win the approval of a supermajority of 60 percent of those who vote in order to pass. A minimum of 12,229 voters also had to cast their ballots.
Prior to the election, bond backers said based on the number of registered voters expected to cast ballots, the bond issue would need about 14,000 “yes” votes in order to win approval.
At a gathering of school board members, administrators and school supporters on election night, many were quick to note the 14,000 vote threshold had nearly been reached. They also were happily talking about the 69 percent passage rate. School board member Brian Deagle said he was both suprised and not surprised by how easily the issue seemed to be winning approval. He said he knows plenty of people still are struggling in the current economy.
At the same time, Deagle described Issaquah School District residents as persons who have always backed their schools. For her part, Robin Callahan, executive director of the Issaquah Schools Foundation, agreed.
In her job at the non-profit that supports district activities, Callahan said she has been surprised again and again at the generosity and committment of local residents to education. She said district students might not realize how lucky they are.
For sometime after initial results were released, Superintendent Steve Rasmussen was handing out certificates, plants and other small gifts to bond supporters, especially various representatives of the Volunteers for Issaquah Schools, the community group that ran the bond campaign. Lesley Austin, co-chairwoman of the campaign,vsaid the voting shows residents have faith in the schools.
“It shows a high level of confidence in the district,” she said.
During the campaign, bond supporters were quick to point out that even with passage of the bond, local homeowners would pay less in property taxes to the schools than they do presently. That’s because a previous bond issue is set to expire this year.
According to the district, the retirement of the earlier bond will drop the local tax rate from $4.85 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $4.05. Passage of the new bond would put the rate at $4.42.
Compared to present rates, for a person with a home valued at $500,000, even with the new bond, property taxes will drop by $215 annually said Jake Kuper, district chief of finance and operations. He was quick to add taxes would drop by an additional $215 if the new bond does not pass.
As approved by the Issaquah School Board, bond sale passage would finance the intermingled rebuilding and relocation of three schools: Clark Elementary, Issaquah Middle and Tiger Mountain Community High. Price: $108.6 million. Sunny Hills Elementary also would be rebuilt at a cost of $27.1 million. Officials and supporters repeatedly have pointed out these buildings are the oldest in the district.
Liberty High School also would be the recipient of some major reconstruction at a cost of $44.5 million, including $4.8 million for revamping the school’s athletic fields. Including the plans for Liberty’s field, school officials hope to spend $18.3 million on athletic fields at the district’s three high schools as well as placing artificial turf at five middle schools, not including fields at the relocated Issaquah Middle School.
In order to be counted in the special election, ballots needed to post marked by April 17, the day of the election. Ballot drop off boxes were available until 8 p.m. April 17 at Issaquah City Hall and other locations set up by county election officials. Further results in the election will be posted at 4:30 p.m. each afternoon in the coming days on the King County Elections website.
Election results are scheduled to be certified April 27, according to Kim Van Ekstrom, chief communications officer for the county elections department.