Levy passing, Auburn High School construction bond failing in early returns

Voters are deciding on a modernization and reconstruction bond will fund critical improvements at Auburn High School while keeping school taxes level. Early returns show the measure was failing.  - Courtesy rendering/NAC Architecture
Voters are deciding on a modernization and reconstruction bond will fund critical improvements at Auburn High School while keeping school taxes level. Early returns show the measure was failing.
— image credit: Courtesy rendering/NAC Architecture

Voters said yes Tuesday night to the Auburn School District's four-year educational programs levy, but the Auburn High School construction bond failed to pick up enough steam to get it over the hump known as the 60-percent supermajority.

Proposition 1, the educational programs levy, stood comfortably above the required 50-percent simple majority in the first tally shortly after 8 p.m. In the combined results of King and Pierce counties, it had gathered 58.54 percent of the vote.

The replacement levy will maintain for all children current educational programs and services, including small class size, instructional programs, special education, athletics and activities, transportation, and maintenance and custodial services. It is not a new tax. It replaces the expiring 2008 levy and is required to maintain current instructional programs and services.

The Auburn High School construction bond was failing as of Tuesday night to reach the supermajority state law requires for the passage of bond measures. In the combined election results of King and Pierce counties, it collected 55.32 percent of the vote.

District officials put the bond forward to replace the aging Auburn High School with a 3-story brick structure facing East Main and extending north to the Performing Arts Center. The present school was to have been leveled and replaced with a parking lot. All of the community activities were to have been clustered on the north side of the campus.

Supporters who'd gathered in the Auburn School District Board room to catch the results were happy about the levy, and while disappointed with the bond results, optimistic about how far the measure had come on the district's second attempt in four years.

Superintendent Kip Herren was hopeful about what that progress might mean for the future.

"We were 43 percent last time regarding this bond proposal, so we're a good 12-percent higher," said Herren. "And we're going to finish higher, too. It's really indicative of the kind of turnaround for a good idea, a needed idea."

Herren added that several thousand votes remain to be counted.

"We're not completely out of it with these numbers," he said.

"I'm very happy about the levy, because it was very important that we pass that," said School Board member Janice Nelson. "Thank goodness for a simple majority …I would have liked the numbers to be higher on the bond, but 56-percent is pretty significant. I've seen them much lower. It's a good sign though, because we can work with that in the future. It's a little easier to go from 55 to 60 percent than from 45 percent to 60 percent."

Auburn High School Principal Richard Zimmerman, who is well acquainted with the infrastructure issues presented by a 62-year-old building dating to the Truman Administriation, had hoped for a different outcome.

"We were really hoping that we would be able to start moving forward right away. But we'll have to wait a bit longer to see more of the results come in," Zimmerman said.


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