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Voters sink CK’s $60 million school bond

From left to right, Karen Flynn explains to Kevin Fergeson,  Jeanie Schulze, Bob Bentley, President of citizens for quality education, and Cathy Davidson, Central Kitsap Superintendent, that this years school bond failed to get the 60 percent needed. - Photo by Jesse Beals
From left to right, Karen Flynn explains to Kevin Fergeson, Jeanie Schulze, Bob Bentley, President of citizens for quality education, and Cathy Davidson, Central Kitsap Superintendent, that this years school bond failed to get the 60 percent needed.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Primary voting results released Thursday night, showed Central Kitsap School District voters were not interested in funding $60 million for new schools.

With 15,301 ballots counted as of 3 p.m., Sept. 18, only 7,688 voters approved the ballot measure. The 50.25 percent approval rate was far short of the 60 percent supermajority required by state law. Another 7,613 voters, or 49.75 percent rejected the bond issue. The total ballots far exceeded the 7,703 votes needed to validate the bond vote.

The results have school district officials scratching their heads.

“What we need to do is to figure out why people voted yes and why people voted no,” said Chris Stokke, CKSD board president.

He encourages people to contact board members by phone or e-mail to voice their concerns with the bond proposal.

“Beyond looking at it as a tax, (the bond) is an investment,” Stokke said.

Although the school board is scheduled to meet Wednesday, Sept. 24, it is unsure whether the board will discuss the election results or wait until the election is certified Friday Sept. 26.

“We’re very, very disappointed,” said CKSD Superintendent Cathy Davidson Tuesday night. She spoke to reporters gathered at the Givens Community Center in Port Orchard where Kitsap County Elections Department workers tabulated early results.

Still Davidson was buoyed by the campaign the district held to convince voters of the need for new schools to replace CK Junior High, Seabeck Elementary, and Jackson Park Elementary Schools. The ballot measure would also have funded replacement of Fairview Junior High School.

“When people participated (in the campaign),” Davidson said, “they saw what the need was.”

Davidson said district officials would examine results, spend more time educating the public who obviously needed more time to think about the $60 million vote.

The CK School Board only voted July 9 to place the ballot measure on the September primary ballot.

Stokke said the shortened time frame “concerned us” but the district also wanted to take advantage of low interest rates, he said.

Bob Bentley, president of the Central Kitsap Citizens for Quality Education, also expressed disappointment in Tuesday’s vote.

“We’ll go back, take a look at the numbers and regroup,” Bentley told reporters Tuesday. “The buildings still need to be fixed.”

A sweltering day early in the current school year might have proved that point. At the aging CK Junior High power and room temperature are the two biggest problems that need fixing said principal Barbara Gilchrist.

“It was 92 degrees in the annex,” with the windows open she said.

“It gets pretty warm in there.”

She and Fairview principal Kathy Wales, although disappointed about the election stressed the importance of business as usual.

“We’ve got kids to teach and we’ve got to keep moving,” Gilchrist said.

Bentley said it was important to take advantage of current low interest rates — some rates as low as they have been in 40 years.

Bentley said about 400 people were involved actively in the decision and process to place the bond vote before voters.

“What we need to do, is engage more people in that process,” he said.

Ballots from all 156 Kitsap County precinct were counted by Thursday afternoon. Some 32,400 ballots were mailed to voters in the district. Election officials had predicted about 40 to 45 percent of CK voters would vote in the election. The prediction proved nearly perfect as 43.96 percent had returned ballots by Thursday.

Under state law the district can take the measure to the voters three more times before the school year ends. Another election could be called as early as the Nov. 4 general election, but that has yet to be determined.

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