Tuesday, May 24, 2022
May 24, 2022

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Ridgefield bond set to fail for 5th straight time; Evergreen levy passes

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

A late surge of “yes” votes won’t be enough to propel Ridgefield School District’s bond measure to passage, according to election results released Tuesday. Meanwhile, Evergreen Public Schools’ replacement operations and maintenance levy has officially passed.

Ridgefield’s proposed general obligation bond is set to fail with 59.15 percent voting to approve — less than 1 percentage point shy of the required 60 percent supermajority. It will be the fifth consecutive bond failure for Ridgefield since 2019.

County elections supervisor Cathie Garber anticipates that the latest batch is the last significant group of ballots; Thursday’s update will likely feature only a dozen or so leftovers.

Ridgefield’s $62.6 million bond measure would have funded the construction of a new elementary school and an expansion at Ridgefield High School. District officials have argued the two projects are critical to handle intense population growth.

District officials have been outlining plans to tackle the overcrowding issue in the coming years in the event of the bond’s failure. On Tuesday, Superintendent Nathan McCann and other officials will evaluate contingency plans, which include year-round learning schedules, redrawing attendance boundaries and converting extracurricular spaces into classrooms.

Ridgefield can run the bond measure again — it’s worth noting that the 59.15 percent of support is a slight improvement from the 57.5 percent the district received on the measure in February — but not until February 2023 or later. Washington law prevents the same initiative from being run more than twice in a calendar year.

“The need for new schools definitely remains,” said district spokesperson Joe Vajgrt. “With projected enrollment numbers rising, it’ll only get more necessary. And we’ve seen what’s happened with construction costs in other districts. We know that the longer we wait the more expensive it’ll be.”

Despite the paper-thin margin, Vajgrt doesn’t anticipate that Ridgefield officials will request a recount.

“We trust that our election officials did this correctly; 0.85 percent is still a big hill to get over,” he said.

Evergreen levy

Now that it’s been approved, Evergreen’s levy will replace the current levy when it expires in December, with collections beginning in 2023. The three-year measure will provide additional funding for physical and mental health resources throughout the district, as well as extracurricular and elective programs like performing arts and athletics.

Coupled with the district’s technology levy and previously approved bond measure, Evergreen voters — who are currently paying $3.79 per $1,000 assessed property value for schools — can expect to pay $3.68 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2023, decreasing to a projected $3.48 in 2024 and 2025.

The election results are due to be certified Friday.

Griffin Reilly: 360-735-4517; griffin.reilly@columbian.com; twitter.com/griflewisreilly

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