Bond backers’ long wait ends

MARYSVILLE -The youngest of George Dragich’s three children will graduate the year before a new high school opens in Marysville.

“It doesn’t matter,” said Dragich, who served as co-chairman of two narrowly defeated bond campaigns in 2005. “It benefits the community as a whole.”

Like other longtime campaign volunteers, Dragich is elated that Marysville voters finally passed a bond measure after 16 years.

The last time a bond measure passed in Marysville was 1990. Four times in the last three years, bond measures have failed.

Allen Shannon was co-chairman of the bond and levy committee this time around. He has a daughter who is a junior at Marysville-Pilchuck High School and a son in sixth grade.

Typical of many of the volunteers, Shannon’s children are not likely to attend the new high school.

“Hopefully, this gets people to realize they shouldn’t have voter apathy,” he said. “Making that effort to vote really does make a difference.”

The bond measure passed by eight votes, with 60.06 percent approval. The levy squeaked by with a 60.18 percent “yes” vote, passing by 24 votes. School levies and bonds require a 60 percent supermajority.

There are no automatic recounts for school measures, and as of Friday no one had inquired about paying for one, said Carolyn Diepenbrock, Snohomish County election supervisor.

Thirty-eight percent of the district’s 34,493 registered voters cast ballots in the Feb. 7 election.

Debra Lawson, a mother of two children, helped with last year’s bond campaigns. The drama of waiting for the final count was agonizing to her as the measures trailed going into Thursday’s count of what turned out to be the final 138 ballots.

“I was not feeling very good on Tuesday, and I felt even worse on Wednesday. I ran all the numbers, and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh,’ ” she said.

Nearly 74 percent of the final ballots counted supported the bonds.

“I’m thrilled,” Lawson said. “I can’t wait to see everything get started, especially the elementary (school). We are in such dire straits there.”

The new elementary school, which could open as early as fall 2008, will be built in the Sunnyside area or on land between Allen Creek and Kellogg Marsh elementary schools.

Both areas are experiencing housing booms, and some Sunnyside students have to be bused six miles away to Marshall Elementary School.

Space is tight in other corners of the district, which teaches 3,000 of its students in 117 portables. With 2,431 students, Marysville-Pilchuck High School is the second-largest in the state.

The new high school will be built on Getchell Hill for 1,600 students. It could open in 2011.

Steve Muller, co-chairman of the Marysville-Tulalip Chamber of Commerce board of directors, helped lead a bond campaign that failed twice in 2003. He is delighted the bond finally passed. He hopes it builds more trust with voters for future school construction projects that are also needed.

“I know the (school) administration really wants to prove itself to the community,” he said.

Dean Ledford, 69, a 1954 graduate of Marysville High School and member of the Tulalip Tribes, has been active in recent campaigns.

Five of his six grandchildren in the Marysville area will graduate before the new high school opens, but that was not his reason for helping out.

With all the housing growth, it was important to add more schools, and 16 years is a long time, he said.

“This is sweet 16,” he said. “We were just crossing our fingers and toes and everything else hoping we would get enough and, by George, we did it.”

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