Friday, March 31, 2023
March 31, 2023

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Ridgefield bond still short; Evergreen levy certain to pass

Just 250 votes left to count on critical schools funding measures

By , Columbian staff writer

Thursday’s round of ballots in the April 26 special election provided marginal shifts in voting trends for two critical school funding measures in Clark County.

After a dramatic surge of “yes” votes on Wednesday, support for the Ridgefield School District’s proposed general obligation bond plateaued on Thursday — now with 59.11 percent voting to approve. In order to pass, the bond must have 60 percent approval. If it fails, it will be the fifth consecutive bond failure for Ridgefield since 2019.

Support for Evergreen Public Schools’ replacement operations and maintenance levy held its ground, now with 54.42 percent voting to approve. The measure requires a simple majority to pass.

Wednesday’s results for Ridgefield’s measure — a $62.6 million bond that would fund the construction of a new elementary school and an expansion to Ridgefield High School — shot up over 3 percentage points from Tuesday night’s initial results.

Though encouraging and perhaps a bit unexpected, district spokesperson Joe Vajgrt said Ridgefield officials viewed the jump toward passage with cautious optimism.

“We’ll be keeping an eye on it closely in the next few days,” Vajgrt said on Wednesday.

With just approximately 250 votes left to count across both districts, according to Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey, it’s entirely possible that Ridgefield could swing either way.

Hanging in the balance is the future of Ridgefield’s battle against a decade of intense population growth, a trend that’s expected to continue into the coming years. Superintendent Nathan McCann has discussed contingency plans with the district’s board of directors in recent weeks for how to deal with further overcrowding were the bond to fail yet again.

Ideas, though not yet set in stone, include redrawing school attendance boundaries and converting extracurricular spaces into additional classrooms.

Evergreen certain to pass

Now with nearly 3,000 votes separating “yes” and “no” on Evergreen’s three-year replacement levy, it’s just about guaranteed that the measure will pass.

The levy will cost Evergreen voters an estimated $1.70 per $1,000 of assessed value for all three years, the same tax rate that those living within district boundaries are currently paying. When coupled with a previously approved bond measure and technology levy, it would lower the current local school tax rate from $3.79 per $1,000 of assessed property value to a projected $3.68 in 2023, $3.48 in 2024 and $3.48 in 2025.

The levy, which replaces the district’s current levy when it expires in December, provides funding for critical health resources like counselors and nurses, as well as supplementary student classes and programs like performing arts and athletics.

A total of 39,468 votes have been counted as of Thursday night, amounting to 35.32 percent of registered voters. The final round of ballots will be released on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.