Schools pass, parks split

Five up, one down, at least for the moment.

The four levy and bond issues requested by the South Whidbey School District passed with comfortable margins as Tuesday's election results rolled in.

Meanwhile, the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District general obligation bond appeared headed for defeat by a narrow margin — less than 1 percentage point — though voters were approving the district's maintenance-and-operations levy.

The school levies needed a 50 percent majority to pass; the parks district required at least 60 percent.

With 19,457 ballots counted and 1,200 left to be tallied, the South Whidbey School District reapportionment measure passed with 77 percent (3,352) voting yes, 997 no.

The maintenance-and-operations levy was passing with 63.1 percent approval; 3,007 votes for, 1,758 against.

The capitol and technology bond was passing with 59.8 percent approval; 2,853 votes for, 1,919 against.

The school district's transportation bond received 65.4 percent approval, with 3,411 voting for the bond, 1,658 voting no.

For the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District, the maintenance-and-operations levy received 64 percent approval, with 3,066 residents voting yes, and 1,721 voting no.

The park district's general obligation bond had 59.54 percent approval from voters, with 2,844 voting yes, and 1,933 marking no on their ballots.

School officials were jubilant and thankful.

"I'm feeling good," school board president Fred O'Neal said just after 9 p.m. "I had a lot of confidence in South Whidbey, but these are tough economic times. I think our decision to ask voters for what was needed rather than what we thought would pass was the right decision."

District Superintendent Fred McCarthy was cautiously optimistic.

"We're pleased with the preliminary results and appreciate the confidence voters have placed in us," he said.

Parks commission president Linda Kast was anxiously watching the results late Tuesday — initial returns showed the bond passing by a few votes. After refreshing the Island County election Web site, she noticed a downward change in the numbers.

"OK, I see we're taking it down to the wire," Kast said. "If it doesn't pass, we'll need to examine what voters are telling us; should we change it, try more education or simply give up. We'll talk about all that tonight."

The parks district will meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Community Health Services building, 5475 Maxwelton Road, to discuss the results.

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