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Auburn High School bond finally tops 60-percent supermajority

The early numbers were encouraging to Superintendent Kip Herren and Auburn High School bond supporters. - Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter
The early numbers were encouraging to Superintendent Kip Herren and Auburn High School bond supporters.
— image credit: Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter

Proposition 1, the $110 million Auburn High School Modernization and Reconstruction Bond, has finally, on its third try, topped that high bar known as the supermajority.

As of Thursday evening, the combined totals of King and Pierce counties stood at 61.36 percent.

If this keeps up, the district will build a new Auburn High School, replacing the present structure, which has stood since 1950.

A large number of ballots remain to be counted, but from the first count shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, the trend has been to add votes. As Superintendent Herren noted Tuesday, post-election trends historically add a percentage point or two to election night numbers.

"The returns look favorable," Herren said. "I've got a cigar in my hand, but I'm not able to light it. There's a lot more votes to be counted."

"Last year," added Deputy Superintendent Mike Newman, "we began with 56.89 and ended up with 58.40, a net movement of 2,709 votes, from election night to certification."

Certification is Nov. 27.

The election night numbers represented some 42 percent of the ballots King County and elections officials sent out.

When the district first ran the bond in 2009, it garnered 46-percent of the vote, 14 percentage points below the supermajority.

District officials say the aging high school is longer cost-effective to operate and maintain. Critically needed repairs include leaking roofs, poor air quality and ventilation and outdated classrooms and labs. Those geezer systems are costing the district $250,000 more in energy costs per year than all the other schools combined.

"It needs replacing badly," said Dr. Harold Valentine, who taught at AHS for many years.

Plans for the new school show a construction footprint extending north from East Main over today's tennis courts and parking lot toward the Performing Arts Center. Accordingly, all community activities — ball park, pool, gym, the PAC and the stadium — would be clustered on the north side of the campus.

Buses would enter from East Main Street and load or unload entirely on campus, a safety improvement over the traffic that today spills onto 4th Street today, tying up traffic and endangering lives, Herren said.

Plans call for the PAC to get a new lobby, one facing 4th Street. The lobby would provide handicapped access to the top floor, the stage and the upstairs bathrooms. All of the school's music programs would be tied to the PAC.

The three-story, red brick school would be set 100-feet back from East Main.

Ultimately the district would level the old high school, replacing it with a 600-stall parking lot, 300 more parking places than are available today. Without the high school in the way of the PAC people coming for a performance could spot the building more easily.

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