Highline schools’ construction bond measure failing
A Highline Public Schools bond issue was falling short of the needed 60 percent approval, while a levy was passing in early returns Tuesday night.
Seattle Times staff reporters
After one Highline Public Schools construction bond measure failed to pass last fall, a second one fell short of the 60 percent approval needed to pass Tuesday.
“The community has made it clear it wants us to work with what we have, and we will,” Superintendent Susan Enfield said.
However, an operating levy, which required a simple majority, was passing Tuesday night after this week’s special election.
The district proposed a slightly smaller $376 million bond measure this time, which it said it would use to expand and rebuild aging, crowded school buildings to make room for a growing number of students.
In November, the district asked for $385 million.
Had the bond measure passed, the district planned to build two new middle schools, rebuild the nearly century-old Highline High School and erect a new school on a new site to replace Des Moines Elementary, among a few other improvements.
District leaders have said they may consider sending students to school in two shifts, with one group starting in the early morning, and the second in the afternoon.
“Our job now is to find a solution to our overcrowding that is least harmful to our students ... we will have to consider portables on play fields, double-shifting, and busing students out of their neighborhoods,” Enfield said in a news release.
Enrollment has grown by about 1,500 students, or 8 percent, in the past five years and is projected to continue increasing. The district says its elementary schools are overcrowded, and more than 60 portables are in use.
Bond opponents didn’t dispute that repairs are needed in some of Highline’s oldest buildings. Instead, they argued the measure was too expensive. The district estimated the bond would raise property taxes by $1.09 per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value. For the owner of a $200,000 home, that would mean about $220 more in property taxes a year.
To pass, the bond request needs 60 percent of the vote. It had received 54 percent Tuesday night.
Also on the ballot in King and Snohomish counties were a $244 million bond issue to replace old schools and relieve overcrowding in the Snoqualmie Valley School District, which was passing; and a two-year, $3 million levy to buy new buses for the Arlington School District, which was trailing by fewer than 300 votes Tuesday night.