PORT ORCHARD — Voters living within the borders of South Kitsap School District dealt school administrators a mixed result on Election Night by approving a $21 million capital projects levy but rejecting a $184 million bond measure to build a second high school.
The capital projects levy required only a simple majority of voters to approve the measure, which they did by a 55-to-45-percent “yes” vote margin. The approved measure will fund various projects that include renovation of the South Kitsap High School’s community pool and restrooms, and roof replacement at Sedgwick and Marcus Whitman middle schools and Sunnyslope Elementary.
Funds also will allow South Kitsap to improve ADA accessibility and fulfill compliance requirements throughout the district mandated by the federal Office of Civil Rights.
But on the same night, voters turned back another effort to fund a second comprehensive high school on district land off Old Clifton Road. The defeat of the bond measure, which required a 60-percent-plus-one-vote majority for approval, is particularly painful for the district. Just 53.4 percent of voters approved Proposition 1, well short of the percentage required for passage.
Despite the defeat of the bond measure, Karst Brandsma, the district’s superintendent, was resolute.
“We’re excited about the work that can be accomplished with the passage of the capital projects levy,” Brandsma said. “There are some badly needed facilities improvements to be done, so that work can get started.”
The superintendent said the district’s task remains the same: “Our mission is to educate our community’s children, but obviously we have to do it in facilities that are not only safe but dry and warm. But we’ll press on and do the best work possible.
“It’s a minor setback, but the work’s still there and we’ll continue doing it as well as we can.”
The school district launched an extensive effort to educate voters about the two measures and how they would have a neutral impact on property taxes. In addition, the South Kitsap School Supporters group waged a coordinated campaign they hoped would push the measures, most notably the high school bond proposition, over the top when election results were announced shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night.
Tiffany Wilhelm, the group’s president, posted her thanks to area supporters on Facebook for their efforts in promoting the two measures.
“You came out and joined us at phone banks and doorbelling,” Wilhelm wrote. “Because of the work you were part of, we can celebrate the good from tonight. We passed a [much-needed] Capital Levy. Passing that levy means a whole list of amazing things are going to happen for SK!”
Still, she said losing the bond measure is painful. “It hurts to lose the bond again after working so hard. Please do not see this as a failure. Tomorrow is a new day and we still have amazing teachers, admins, and support staff that will continue to do what they do every day: make South Kitsap amazing.”
The district has repeatedly asked voters for money to build a new high school, most recently during the past few years in which two of the bond measures fell to defeat by just a handful of votes. The most recent bond measure election only mustered 52 percent to approve in a special election on Feb. 14, 2017.
Proposition 1 to build a second high school received 12,480 votes, or 53.4 percent, to approve, and 10,876 votes, or 46.6 percent, to reject. Proposition 2, the capital projects levy, received 12,820 yes votes, or 55 percent, and 10,492 no votes, or 45 percent.