Results are finally in: School bond measure squeaks to victory

After days of uncertainty, King County Elections certified Vashon Island’s Feb. 8 election, declaring a bond measure to rebuild portions of Vashon High School victorious with a margin of nine votes.

The Vashon Island School District’s $47.7 million bond measure garnered 2,626 votes, or 60.22 percent of those who cast ballots; 1,735 voters rejected the measure.

Proposition 2, which would have funded a new track and field at the high school, was endorsed by 55.69 percent of the vote, failing to earn a 60 percent supermajority.

The election was certified last Wednesday, two weeks after ballots for the special election were due.
Since initial results were released on Feb. 8, Proposition 1 has teetered between 58 percent and a little more than 60 percent of voter approval.

Over the course of the count, the county was able to resolve dozens of ballots with signature problems — either a voter’s failure to sign the oath card or whose signature didn’t match the
one the county has on file. Ultimately, said Katie Gilliam, a spokeswoman for King County Elections, 44 Vashon ballots remained “uncured.”

A recount could occur only if someone called for one and was willing to pay for it. The deadline for such a request expired Tuesday, Gilliam said.

Superintendent Michael Soltman said he and other school district officials were delighted to see the bond measure officially pass.

“After we cleared 60 percent, and with the trends we had established, I wasn’t concerned about a reversal,” Soltman said. “I was very hopeful that we would pass.”

The district quickly moved forward on the project, issuing last Thursday a request for proposals from general contractors. Soltman said the district hopes to have a recommendation to the school board by its April 14 meeting.

Within a month, the school board is expected to empanel a design phase advisory group, comprised of community members, district staff, teachers and students who will act as a touchstone for lead architect Brian Carter as he designs the project, said Eric Gill, capital projects manager for the district. That group will advise Soltman, who in turn will make recommendations to the board.

The district’s timeline for the project is ambitious,  driven in part by what Gill called an attractive bid climate.

Late last year, the district went through a process of determining how classrooms will be clustered, some of the sizes of various spaces and other “educational specifications.”

As a result, he said, “We’ve already laid the groundwork.” Now, he added, “We turn the design team loose.”
Gill, who has been working on this project since the fall of 2004, said he’s excited to see it finally moving forward. The timing is auspicious, he added, because of growing community interest in solar power and other cutting-edge technologies.

“There’s a myriad of things that are out there and possible, and that’s the part that really excites me,” Gill said.

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