School bond clinging to 60 percent approval

With 9,077 votes counted as of Thursday, 60.74 percent of voters approved the Bainbridge Island School District’s $42 million capital bond. A total of 5,513 voters approved the bond, while 3,564 voted against it.

The bond, which requires a 60 percent super-majority to pass, failed by 19 votes in May’s special election. Of the 9,579 voters last May, 5,728 (59.80 percent) approved the bond.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” Supt. Faith Chapel said. “We are pleased to see that the baseline numbers are over 60 percent and we are certainly going to be watching the results as they come in.”

In the first results of the May 19 special election, 57.68 percent of the voters approved the bond.

“I think we’re just feeling a stronger gratitude to the community for their support of schools and feeling slightly more secure that the pattern in the past has been, after those late mail-in ballots come, that typically the pattern has been more approval,” district spokeswoman Pamela Keyes said.

Since the May election, the district’s primary goal has been to inform voters about the bond.

“When you come back, people have had more time to absorb information and to find out information,” Keyes said. “We certainly went back to what we did in our 2006 bond – much more one on one. I don’t know that that is the ultimate end reason, but we feel that that makes a dramatic difference.”

The school district would allocate almost $32 million of the bond to replace Wilkes Elementary School with a new building at the same site. Nine million would fund improvements to Blakely, Ordway, Sakai, Wodoward, Commodore and Bainbridge High School The remaining $1 million would finance energy conservation and sustainability measures.

The bond would be offset by retiring existing bonds, school district officials said.

Architect selection would begin this month and continue through January 2010. Construction of the new building would begin in April 2011 with completion in July 2012.

In the second phase, which would take place from July through November 2012, students will be moved to the new facility, and the old building would be demolished.

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