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One out of three school bonds passed

OKANOGAN – Final returns from the Feb. 14 election show one of three area school districts’ bond requests passed.

Bridgeport School District voters gave the nod to a $4.4 million bond issue that will be coupled with about $9.9 million in state money to finance construction of additional classrooms at the elementary and high schools, and renovation of the middle school.

Measures in Okanogan and Tonasket were rejected when they failed to reach the 60 percent yes vote required for passage.

“We are excited that the bond has passed and we certainly want to thank the voters for their support,” said Bridgeport Superintendent Scott Sattler.

“Over the next few months we will figure out the sale of the bonds and start working with an architect,” he said. “Typically, it will take a year to line everything up and hopefully start construction in the spring of 2018.

“For now, we are very thankful for the favorable vote and we are excited to drastically improve our facilities.”

The measure garnered 64.84 percent yes votes district-wide, or 249 yes votes and 135 no votes. Douglas County voters carried the measure, giving it a 65.3 percent favorable vote; Okanogan County voters said yes at a 55.56 percent rate, with 10 yes votes and 8 no votes.

Okanogan fell about 20 yes votes short of garnering the 60 percent margin needed for passage of its $3.97 million request to build classrooms, install safety equipment and revamp athletic facilities, said Superintendent Richard Johnson.

“The district is pleased the majority of voters supported the bond levy – 4.2 percent more than last time, but still 20 yes votes shy of the 60 percent required for passage,” he said.

The measure garnered 646 yes votes and 462 no votes, for a 58.3 percent passage rate.

“The identified needs remain and will have be addressed,” he added. “The school board will now take some time to consider the situation.”

Board members talked during their Feb. 22 meeting about the then-apparent defeat of the bond issue, but did not take any action concerning rerunning the request.

In final returns Feb. 24, the measure garnered a 58.3 percent yes vote.

“The board discussed it quite a bit, but in the end decided they wanted to take some time to study everything before taking another try at it,” said Johnson. “They wanted to have some time to reflect.”

Tonasket’s $10 million bond issue request drew 950 yes votes and 866 no votes, for a 52.31 percent approval rate.

The money would have paid for construction projects to alleviate overcrowding at the elementary and middle school levels, replace a deteriorating alternative school and expand the high school shop, plus make Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades to the baseball, softball and soccer fields, and update the baseball and softball fields with better dirt and leveling.

“I want to thank all of the people in our community that helped come up with facility proposal and who helped with the promotion of the bond,” Superintendent Steve McCullough said. “Even though the bond did not pass, I am always impressed by the support this community gives to our school.

“Our facility needs did not go away with the failure of the bond, and we will need to take steps soon to find viable solutions to these needs,” he said.

Two other measures on the Feb. 14 ballot saw voters in Winthrop and Fire District No. 6 both approve requests for Winthrop to join the fire district.

Winthrop voters cast 101 yes votes and 31 no votes, and district voters said yes, 1,069 to 174. Both measures needed simple majorities to pass.

Voter turnout county-wide was 42.2 percent, auditor’s office figures show.

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