Blaine school district’s replacement maintenance and operations levy passed handily in Tuesday’s special election but the $3 million capital improvement bond remains a nail biter.
Requiring a 60 percent super-majority, the measure received 60.75 percent approval in the second round of ballot counting on Wednesday night. Those giving the nod to the measure totaled 2,405 versus 1,554 voters who drew the ballot line for “No.”
On the other hand, the M&O levy easily surpassed the simple majority required with 2,534 voters marking off “Yes” while 1,441 turned thumbs down for a 63.75 percent approval rate. Both “Yes” percentages increased from the first count on election night.
Blaine school superintendent Ron Spanjer described the district’s mood as “cautiously optimistic that the measure will hold above the 60 percent required for approval and that we will be able to start the process of addressing some long awaited, long needed facility improvements.”
Spanjer went on to say that school officials were “very much appreciative of the support that our patrons have shown in approving this measure. With the unprecedented trend of revenue reduction from the state in play over the last four years, the local levy has served, and will continue to serve, as the source for sustaining critical programs for students.”
All Whatcom County school districts had similar experiences with their replacement M&O measures with approval rates ranging from a low of 58.7 percent for the Mt. Baker district to a high of 68.3 percent for the Bellingham district. Voters in other districts were as tightfisted as Blaine voters when it came to capital improvement bonds. Mt. Baker district voters failed to approve their facilities and technology levy as only 58.2 percent voted in favor of passage.
Nooksack’s technology and capital project levy appears to be squeaking through with 61.56 percent of voters nodding yes. Continuing the trend of voters approving replacement measures, Bellingham’s replacement technology capital projects levy passed with 67.2 percent of voters giving their approval to the measure.
An updated count will be released at 5 p.m., Thursday February 15.
Breaking the results down to precinct level shows voters within the Blaine city limits showed the strongest support for both the levy and the bond. For the M&O levy, Point Roberts voted 62.5 percent in favor, Blaine voted 66.5 percent and Birch Bay voted 63.5 percent “Yes.”
For the capital improvement bond, Point Roberts voted 58.1 percent “Yes,” Blaine voted 63.6 percent and Birch Bay voted 59.6 percent. City of Blaine voters dragged the total over the 60 percent mark as did two of Birch Bay’s four precincts.
For both the M&O levy and the bond, voters in Semiahmoo registered the lowest approval rate of any precinct at 59.3 and 56.8 percent, respectively.
Out of 117,137 registered voters in the county, slightly over 42 percent, or 49,759, returned their mail-in ballots to the county.
Looking forward, Blaine and other school districts will have to ask themselves a question: Given ever tightening funds from the state, what do they need to do to convince voters (in Blaine’s case, 1,441) to vote yes on simply funding basic operating costs of the school district?