Education

Voters saying yes to school construction bonds, early election results show

New schools might be coming to Pierce County sooner rather than later.

Early results of February’s special election showed voters approving construction bonds for Bethel and Peninsula school districts.

As of Tuesday night, 65.29 percent of the ballots counted were in favor of the Bethel School District’s $443 million construction bond.

For Peninsula, 66.68 percent of ballots counted were in favor of the district’s $198 million bond.

Yelm’s $98,985,000 bond included voters in both Pierce and Thurston counties also was passing with 63.39 percent approval.

School bonds require a 60 percent majority to pass, a requirement that districts have struggled to reach in previous elections.

The Pierce County Auditor’s office recorded a 36 percent voter turnout.

In the 2018 February Special Election, there were 12 school bonds on the ballot and voter turnout was at 28 percent.

The next round of results is expected to drop at 5 p.m. Wednesday at co.pierce.wa.us/328/Elections.

Bethel’s bond will construct two new elementary schools and allow other various improvements. The bond will cost Bethel taxpayers $1.42 per $1,000 of assessed property value. For the average single-family home in Bethel — $297,021 — that’s $35 a month, or $1.17 a day.

Bethel Superintendent Tom Seigel said the initial results are some of the highest Bethel’s ever received on a bond.

“It’s a terrific relief,” Seigel said.

Art Jarvis echoed the sentiment. He came on board as Peninsula’s superintendent in August, after the district failed its bond in April.

“They were hurting badly, so be able to see the joy in the faces tonight is just something you can’t replicate,” he said.

Peninsula’s bond will build two elementary schools, rebuild two elementary schools and allow other various improvements. The tax rate is estimated to be 79 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Yelm’s bond allows security improvements to schools and replaces Yelm Middle School and Southworth Elementary School. Due to local levy rates being reduced by an estimated $2.19 per $1,000 assessed value in 2019, the district expects tax rates to decline.

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