Lakewood schools bond could return to voters

LAKEWOOD — With certification of the Feb. 11 special election just days away, most people already know how their ballot issues will turn out.

That’s also the case in the Lakewood School District, where a $66.8 million bond issue to renovate Lakewood High School appears to have failed by just a handful of votes.

That’s not stopping the district from moving forward.

“We’re so close that our preliminary plan is to look at the special election on April 22 and run the bond measure one more time,” said Lakewood Superintendent Dennis Haddock.

As a general obligation bond, Proposition 1 needed a 60 percent supermajority to pass.

The tally as of Feb. 21 had just 58.9 percent of votes cast favoring the bond issue. Unlike statewide ballot measures, there are no automatic recounts for local initiatives.

Just 2,937 votes have been cast so far in the election, with 1,730 voting in favor of Prop. 1, 33 votes short of the needed supermajority. Given the relative small size of the school district, however, getting over that threshold before Tuesday is unlikely.

The district and the school board are taking that squeaker as a sign that the measure can succeed without too much rejiggering. “I think the voters have spoken in a very strong positive fashion, and I think the board is taking that as a significant investment in moving forward,” Haddock said.

The final Feb. 11 election results will be validated March 25. The Lakewood School Board is scheduled to meet March 5 and decide whether to run the bond issue again in April.

The bond measure is intended to bring the 30-year-old Lakewood High School up to modern standards and build capacity in anticipation of new growth in the district.

While the bond issue amounts to about $2.49 per $1,000 of assessed valuations, homeowners in the district will see their total property tax increase by 51 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation if it passes.

That’s because the current technology and capital projects levy is expiring.

Right now district residents are paying about $5.42 per $1,000. That will go up to $5.93 once the current technology and capital projects levy expires and if the bond issues then passes.

For a $250,000 home, the total tax bill increase would rise by $128 for 2015.

The money from the bond will fund a number of projects at the high school, including bringing most school operations under one roof, as opposed to the current setup with outbuildings and portables on the school campus.

There will also be major improvements to the building’s access and security, its heating, electrical and plumbing systems, more classroom, lab and studio space for anticipated future growth in the district, and to traffic patterns and parking areas.

If the bond measure passes, it will also allow the district to receive an additional $5.3 million from the state to fund athletic facilities at the school.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com.

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