ARLINGTON – Arlington Public Schools’ hoped for “hat trick” for education looks to be going two-for-three in special election voting.
While two levies are passing, the biggest ballot measure, a bond to rebuild an aging middle school, is failing.
On Election Night, support for a $71.5 million bond to replace Post Middle School was 51.7% – 3,102 to 2,899 votes. The measure picked up 95 more “yes” than “no” votes for a 52.1% showing, but still remained far from the 60% supermajority it needed for passage.
“The bond is not at the percentage to pass at this time,” schools Superintendent Chrys Sweeting said. “It’s a challenge when you go for a bond, but we remain hopeful.”
The last time Arlington passed a school bond was for the high school in 2000. It went to voters five times, with three of the four times drawing a 50 percent or more of voters before it mustered 60 percent for final passage, according to voting records. If the district tries again to build a new Post, it will be the fifth try.
On the upside, Arlington’s two levies that only required a simple majority were passing.
Tuesday, 52% of voters – 3,184 “yes” to 2,917 “no” – were supporting a four-year, $25 million capital levy to pay for safety improvements across all schools, energy-efficiency add-ons for most schools and a new art and math wing of additional classrooms at Arlington High School.
Voters were also backing a four-year educational programs and operations levy to pay for everything outside what the state funds for “basic education,” including extra-curricular activities. Early results had the levy passing 55% to 45%, or 3,329 to 2,745 votes; those percentages stayed the same in second-day tallies.
“I’m very pleased and grateful to Arlington voters for passing the levies; at this point, it’s pretty humbling,” Sweeting said. “The district spent a lot of time listening to and learning from our community. Their suggestions led to breaking the levies and bond into three separate ballot measures.”
She applauded the Facilities Advisory Committee for staying the course and providing good recommendations to the school board.
“We’re looking forward to moving ahead,” Sweeting said.
“It doesn’t look good,” was all Marysville schools superintendent Jason Thompson said after seeing election numbers Tuesday night.
He was gathered with other school leaders at The Village Restaurant.
The numbers are not good as the building levy was failing 60 percent to 40 percent, or 6,743 “no” votes compared with 4,580 “yes” votes.
Wednesday, Thompson said the district is saddened for students and the community by the failure of the levy. But he wanted to thank those who supported it, and especially members of the Citizens for Marysville Schools who worked so hard for it.
“At this time we are not certain of our next steps in our quest to replace outdated school facilities,” Thompson wrote in an email to The Marysville Globe.
Even before the results, Thompson knew the odds were stacked up against him and district.
The No. 1 reason is property taxes on average are predicted to be going up about $900 this year, after going down an average of $400 last year. Residents are expected to start getting their tax bills on Valentine’s Day, Friday.
If the $120 million school building levy passed that would have added on another $700 on average starting next year.
If the building levy passed, Liberty and Cascade elementary schools would have been replaced, and all 17 schools would have received security upgrades. The levy would have been paid off in six years.
Both its levies failed. The operations levy failed 57 percent to 43 percent, or 1,476 to 1,099. And its capital levy failed 1,427 to 1,148, or 55 percent to 45 percent.
Fire District 15’s levy passed 65 percent to 35 percent, or 487-259.