Woodland schools optimistic on bond




For results see www.columbian.com on Tuesday night. Results are expected by about 8:30 p.m.

For results see www.columbian.com on Tuesday night. Results are expected by about 8:30 p.m.

Woodland school officials are waiting on “pins and needles” to find out whether the district will get the new high school they say it so desperately needs.

The district’s $52.8 million bond measure on Tuesday’s ballot must receive more than 60 percent of the vote to pass. Official results will be made known after 8 p.m.

As of Monday, around 40 percent of 6,416 ballots distributed through the mail in Clark and Cowlitz counties had been returned, said elections officials in both counties.

The bond measure would pay for a new 147,000-square-foot high school on a 40-acre plot on Dike Access Road, a new gym at Yale Elementary and modernization and safety upgrades at the Woodland district’s elementary and middle schools, the ballot says.

Built in 1953, the current high school is overcrowded, outdated and a security risk, officials said. A $49.4 million bond measure to build a new high school failed in 2008, but officials believe this time will be different because of reduced interest rates and increased matching dollars from the state.

Residents would pay 96 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value, or $192 a year for the owner of a $200,000 home. That’s down from $1.47 per $1,000 of assessed home value on the failed 2008 measure.

The project’s total price tag is $63,835,000, but the school district is eligible for $11 million in matching dollars from the state upon approval of the bond, officials said.

Both Woodland Superintendent Michael Green and Woodland High Principal John Shoup used the term “cautiously optimistic” about Tuesday night’s results.

“We really hope those 40 percent that have turned them in so far are (supportive),” Shoup said Monday.

The majority of the voters in the district live in Cowlitz County. Of the 5,531 ballots mailed out in that county, 2,461 were returned as of Friday, Green said. That number came out to a tick above 38 percent, the superintendent noted.

Clark County voters returned 361 of 885 ballots as of Monday, Elections Supervisor Tim Likness said.

Green expressed hope that voters who had forgotten to vote would cast their ballot Tuesday.

“It’s always hard to tell the barometer of any vote,” the superintendent said. “Until you know, you don’t know.”