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UPDATE | South Whidbey school officials to regroup amid bond failure

Controversy over the closure of Langley Middle School appears to be dooming a $25 million bond measure to raise property taxes to help pay for moving the school to the South Whidbey High School campus.

Early vote returns on Tuesday night show Proposition 1 falling to defeat. Voters were rejecting the proposal 57 percent to 42 percent, with 3,555 in opposition and 2,575 votes in favor.

The measure – an ambitious proposal to spend $15 million to build new classrooms and a gym for middle school students at SWHS, and funnel another $10 million for essential repairs in South End schools needs a 60-percent “yes” vote to pass.

“We’re disappointed,” said Fred McCarthy, superintendent of South Whidbey schools.

“We’ll look at the results, and decide what our next move is. We are definitely going to listen to the voters,” he said.

That’s just what Damian Greene, one of the opponents of Prop. 1, wanted to hear.

“I hope the school board will take a time-out and listen to the community,” Greene said.

Greene said he hopes the school board would come up with “a more responsible plan” to move the district forward in light of declining enrollment.

The school board will meet on Nov. 10 and is expected to talk about its next steps. The board has also scheduled a site visit to Langley Middle School, a historic building on Camano Avenue in Langley that the school board voted to close last year to help bridge a $1.8 million budget gap created by declining enrollment.

A total of 24,960 votes have been counted countywide, with an estimated 6,000 left to count in the days ahead.

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