News

School bond again rejected

By Brenda Sexton, The Courier-Herald

The Enumclaw School District did not receive the 60 percent level of support needed to pass a $45 million capital project bond that would have built a new J.J. Smith Elementary School and modernized several other schools.

When it comes to elections, school districts are held to higher standards. As of Friday, 2,909 (52.13 percent) district voters had supported the measure, well shy of the "supermajority" required.

Enumclaw School Board President Nancy Merrill said she was disappointed.

"I'm desperately disappointed because we truly needed to see this happen," Merrill said. "I am devastatingly disappointed for people in this district."

This is the second time in two years the district has failed the same bond.

In the past, the school board has joined others across the state to lobby the Legislature to change the 60-percent standard for school districts, but has made no progress.

After dismal turnout numbers last year, part of the community committee's campaign this year was a push to register more voters. The committee registered more than 100 more voters, but had an even smaller turnout at the polls with 35.12 percent of the 15,898 registered voters making an appearance. Last year's May numbers were at 38.49 percent.

According to numbers from King County Elections, almost 500 fewer voters went to the polls. In last year's May election, the district captured 3,025 more "yes" votes for the measure. The good news for the district is there were also 345 more "no" votes in 2003.

"We're obviously not targeting well," Merrill said.

The board spent the weekend in Leavenworth, Wash., for its annual retreat, but did not release information. However, Merrill said the board plans to renew Superintendent Art Jarvis' contract for another year.

Merrill believes the district is heading in the right direction with literacy and test scores.

"I feel really good about what we're building here," Merrill said.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com

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