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Sequim school bond falling short for fourth time
The Sequim School District’s fourth attempt at a school construction bond in the past two years didn’t make the mark after an initial ballot count on Feb. 9.
Results from the special election show that the $54 million proposal is garnering 7,435 yes votes (57.02 percent) of the 13,040 ballots tallied by the Clallam County Auditor’s Office as of Feb. 9.
The bond proposal requires a 60 percent “super majority” to earn approval.
“I don’t know what to say,” Gary Neal, Sequim School District superintendent, said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
“I think this is a very scary statement by the community,” Neal said. “This is bigger than a bond — there’s something else out there.”
The measure would have among other things paid for a new elementary school, added general education classrooms at Greywolf Elementary School, science classrooms at Sequim High School, new choir and band rooms at Sequim High and a major remodel of the school district’s kitchen that services each of the schools.
“These kids need a different opportunity; there’s no argument to that,” Neal said. “This isn’t about us or a lack of effort and it’s not about what’s right,” he said. “There is something else going on out there.”
In the November 2015 General Election, a $49.3 bond proposal with a similar project list fell short of the 60 percent mark by less than one-half of 1 percent. A February 2015 bond proposal garnered 57.6 percent of the vote.
A $154 million construction bond garnered only about 47 percent yes votes in April 2014.
Neal and bond supporters gathered Tuesday night, reflecting on the district’s fourth attempt at garnering support for new school facilities.
“A zip code shouldn’t determine your level of education and that’s what these kids are suffering from,” Neal said.
“I cannot believe this,” he told bond supporters. “I am shocked and I am sorry.”
“Part of the problem is my job is to make sure that kids get the education that they need to succeed and this (failure to pass a construction bond) becomes problematic because it begins to take us away from our real mission.”
Dave Mattingley, former bond campaign chairman, offered his support for Neal and future bond proposals Tuesday night.
“We have an excellent superintendent here, we have an excellent staff and it may not be today, but we will have a bond and we will build a school,” he said. “Education is very important for this community — it’s the growth that will drive this community.”
“I feel like it’s so unfair,” Sequim High School senior Emma Eekhoff said regarding the bond’s failure. “Emily (Webb, also an SHS senior) and I have the opportunity to leave and are going to universities, but for the kids in elementary school, they don’t have a choice.”
“This is just going to bring younger and upcoming students down,” Eekhoff said.
"If they don’t feel like a community cares about them, then what do they have?” Webb said.
See full election results, including a precinct-by-precinct voting breakdown, at results.vote.wa.gov/results/current/clallam/.