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Sequim school bond fails

Dave Mattingley of Citizens for Sequim Schools talks with Sequim school staffers Karen Sande and Valorie Knieper Tuesday evening after learning the Sequim School District
Dave Mattingley of Citizens for Sequim Schools talks with Sequim school staffers Karen Sande and Valorie Knieper Tuesday evening after learning the Sequim School District's $154 million bond proposal failed.
— image credit: Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

For months, Sequim School District leaders have asked taxpayers to approve a $154 million construction bond that would change the face and future of Sequim schools.

On Tuesday night, voters in the district gave a clear indication they are not willing to pay for that kind of project

With 10,759 votes tallied (about 47 percent of 22,725 eligible Clallam County voters ballots counted) as of Tuesday evening, “yes” votes are falling far short of the required 60 percent “super majority” required to approve the bond.

Sequim schools superintendent Kelly Shea said he was surprised at the gap between votes.

“I felt it would be much closer,” he said. “I am surprised how soundly it was defeated.”

The 20-year bond would have paid for projects that include an $87 million overhaul of Sequim High School, $25.5 million for a new elementary school, $17.7 million in renovations to Grey- wolf Elementary School and $8 million in renovations to Helen Haller Elementary School.

Bond supporters asserted that construction is necessary, that many of Sequim’s school buildings are aging and unsafe, and that a new elementary school would create more space for Sequim’s growing

kindergarten population. Critics of the bond proposal argued the dollar figure for the bond is too great for a commu- nity the size of Sequim to pay for, and that voters have not been

given any alternatives. “Obviously it’s a disappointment,” Sequim School Board director Sarah Bedinger said. “This is not a margin we’re go- ing to recover from in a second count. We’re going to have to regroup and the entire school board is going to have to discuss this and how to move forward.”

The bond also would have replaced Sequim High School’s athletic field (including the addition of an all-weather playing surface), improve district technology infrastructure, modernize the district base kitchen, move SHS’s choir and band room to the main campus and fund the demolition of the Sequim Community School, among other projects.

“I think we put together the best proposal we could with a vision that would get our schools to a safe point,” board director Beverly Horan said.

Instead, school district officials are headed back to the proverbial drawing board to consider running another bond proposal.

Shea said he’ll await direction from the Sequim School board.

“We’ll go back to the drawing board,” he said. “We’re a long way away from this campaign. We have all-day kindergarten coming (and) we are out of space with classrooms. We have to do something.”

 

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