School district measures passing in Everett, failing in Marysville

  • By Chris Winters Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, April 26, 2016 9:22pm
  • Local News

EVERETT — Financing measures put on the special election ballot by the Everett and Marysville school districts had mixed results in early returns Tuesday.

The two measures run by Everett Public Schools were passing as of Tuesday night. If those results don’t change as more ballots are counted, it would be a major victory for the district that saw a $259 million bond measure voted down twice in 2014.

The Marysville School District, however, was looking at the likely failure of a bond measure. The last time a bond passed in Marysville was a decade ago. A 2010 bond failed, too.

The two school districts each ran general obligation bond measures, and Everett Public Schools also ran a replacement capital projects technology levy.

A total of 28,724 ballots that were received by Tuesday were included in the initial count. That’s a turnout rate of 24.26 percent of registered voters in the two districts.

In the Everett School District, Proposition 1 asked voters to approve a $89.6 million levy. Proposition 2 asked voters to approve a $149.7 million bond measure.

The levy would pay for technology and security upgrades at many schools, including computers for teachers and students, Wi-Fi equipment and infrastructure for school buildings, upgraded science and technology labs, and 10 portable classrooms to relieve overcrowding.

The levy needed a simple majority to pass. As of Tuesday night, 64.1 percent of voters were in favor of the measure, or 11,259 “yes” votes out of 17,557 ballots counted.

The bond measure needed a 60 percent super majority to pass, and had received the support of 61.4 percent of voters, or 10,731 out of 17,489 ballots counted to date.

That’s a margin of just 237 votes.

The bond would raise money to build a new elementary school in the district’s south end, buy land for another south end school, renovate North Middle School and Woodside Elementary, replace the fields at Everett High School and the roof at Gateway Middle, and upgrade the heating and air conditioning at eight schools, among other projects. It also would allow the district to buy 14 portable classrooms to accommodate expected growth at Cascade and Henry M. Jackson high schools.

“This is wonderfully good news for kids and families,” Superintendent Gary Cohn said.

He said there were probably a multitude of reasons why the district voters supported the bond issue this year, including the campaign and how it conveyed information about the measures.

“I think the reduction in the size of the measure made a difference,” Cohn added.

Everett School Board President Ted Wenta said the smaller bond issue was a result of the board spending a lot of time listening to people in the district.

“I think the board really stepped back and listened after the double failure in 2014,” Wenta said.

“Now the onus of responsibility is on us to be transparent in how we go about spending those taxpayer dollars, and we don’t take that for granted,” he said.

In the Marysville School District, Proposition 1 asked voters to approve a $230 million general obligation bond. The measure would fund the replacement of Cascade and Liberty elementary schools and Marysville Middle School, relocate Totem Middle School, build another middle school in the north end of the district, and renovate and modernize much of Marysville Pilchuck High School.

The bond measure needed a 60 percent super majority to pass. As of Tuesday, just 48.3 percent of votes were in favor, or 5,216 votes out of 10,791 tallied.

“Obviously we didn’t get the message out clearly enough and maybe the voters are sending a message that we didn’t understand,” Marysville Schools Superintendent Becky Berg said.

The board and administration convened a committee of 40 people to decide on the financing measure, and the need for infrastructure was critical.

“The need couldn’t be clearer that we have schools in serious disrepair, are 55 years old and are not serving the students,” Berg said.

She said the next step would be unclear, but that she and the board would keep moving forward.

“We’re not going to give up,” she said. “Our kids are just as good as any other kids in any other school district around and they need modern facilities.”

Ballots had to be postmarked by Tuesday or placed in a drop-box by 8 p.m. in order to be counted.

Election results are online at elections/results/ecurrent.htm. The next update is expected to be posted Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Election results will be certified May 6.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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