School bond too close to call...

Published on Thu, May 17, 2001 by Brendan Shriane

Read More News

School bond too close to call...

By Brendan Shriane

Blaine will know Friday if its $20 million school bond has passed or not.

Unofficial tallies of poll and absentee votes give a very slight 60.84 percent lead for the Yea votes but whether that will hold up when absentee votes are counted is anyone’s say at the moment. Election night returns show a slight edge for the bond but at least 224 absentee ballots are in the auditor’s office waiting to be tallied.

The danger lies in the proportion of No votes in the absentee ballots that have been counted so far. Yes votes have been running at only 56 percent and a drop of a few percentage points would be enough to doom the bond issue this time around. The 2599 Absentees represent 42 percent of the Blaine school district’s 6243 voters.

“I’m optimistic, personally,” said Mike Dodd of the Blaine School Board. “If there are 200-250 more absentees and they stay where they are, it’ll be close.”

Dodd thinks the recent layoff announcements at Georgia-Pacific and the possible closure at Alcoa’s Intalco works may have influenced the election in favor of the Nays. “How much you’ll never know, but I’m sure it had some effect. Those announcements couldn’t have come at a worse time”

As it stands now, 1,078 voters have voted for the bond while 694 were against, a winning tally of 60.8 percent. The bond requires a super-majority of 60 percent to pass. In addition to the 60 percent supermajority the bond has a minimum turnout requirement of 1806, which presumably would be satisfied with the absentee ballots at the auditor’s office. Absentee ballots are valid as long as they are postmarked the day of the election.

The county auditor’s office will begin counting the absentees Friday at 9 a.m. If the auditor receives more than 25 ballots between the Friday vote and next Wednesday there will be an interim vote, but county auditor Shirley Forslof doubts that will need to happen. “Usually there won’t need to be an interim vote, most ballots will be in two days after an election, especially when it’s just one district.”

The vote, however, will not be certified until Friday, May 25 at 1 p.m.

If the bond passes school officials will get started on its capital projects.

“We will start right away getting the bonds on the market and getting them sold,” Dodd said. “We could have the middle school classrooms going by the start of the school year or be very close and we’d probably get started on some elementary school things.”

The middle school is slated to get $3 million from the bond for six new classrooms and heating and ventilation improvements.

School Superintendent Gordon Dolman has previously said the rooms have already been designed and are ready to be immediately built if the bond passes. Another $600,000 from the bond will pay for improvements for gym locker room renovations, seismic upgrades and a fresh coat of paint.

The elementary school projects, which will add up to $2.3 million, include four new classrooms, a remodeled kitchen and a new cafeteria.

The high school looks to receive $1.7 in the form of a fire suppression system, four new classrooms library improvements and a new computer lab.

Blaine primary school would get eight new classrooms, improvements to its heating and ventilation systems and parking upgrades to the tune of $3.4 million. Point Roberts primary would get $690,000 for a covered play area and a bus garage.

The bond would also provide money for district-wide improvements in the vocational buildings, bus garage and the district’s telecommunications system.

On the other hand, “If it doesn’t go the administrators and the board will have to get together and figure some things out, whether that will be doubling up classes, I don’t know. We’ll have to see what those proposals will be,” Dodd said.

Back to Top