School levy hangs on to slight lead

"Election progressionTuesday night:School District levy: Yes 2191 (61.34 percent), No 1381Parks District bond: Yes 2119 (59.44 percent), No 1446Thursday nightSchool District levy: Yes 2424 (60.84 percent), No. 1560Parks District bond: Yes 2349 (59.12 percent), No. 1624Friday afternoonSchool District levy: Yes 2546 (60.81 percent), No. 1641Parks District levy: Yes 2466 (59.00 percent), No. 1713Next week:About 1,500 absentee ballots county-wide remain to be counted, but only about 25 percent of those will be from are from South Whidbey voters, according to the Island County Auditor's Office.By JIM LARSENRecord editorIf the absentee vote trend continues, the South Whidbey School District levy proposal appears to be a winner -- but just barely.Just barely also applies to the South Whidbey Park and Recreation District, but in a negative sense -- it appears the Parks bond proposal is losing.But the fate of both proposals will be uncertain until the final absentee ballots are counted sometime next week.Who says one vote doesn't count? asked Dr. Lisa Bjork, superintendent of schools, after she saw the $6 million, two-year levy's apparent winning margin dwindle slightly after more absentee ballots were counted on Thursday. The levy needs 60 percent approval to pass. On election night the vote was 61.34 percent favorable, but that was cut to 60.84 percent Thursday and 60.81 on Friday. The levy was only 34 yes votes ahead of failure.We've been very uneasy, Bjork said of school district election watchers. But after Friday's count and considering the few absentees remaining, the outlook was bright for the school levy.The Parks bond proposal was exactly 34 votes below the 60 percent needed to pass on Thursday and 41 behind on Friday. The district hoped to sell $1.45 million in bonds to buy 30 acres, build new ballfields, and pay off the debt on 20 acres purchased last fall.The Island County Auditor's Office finished its counting for the week on Friday morning when another 600 absentees were run through the machine. The results barely affected the totals (see box), leaving the school district about even and the Parks District a bit further behind.Parks Director Jerry Cole watched his cause slip as the week progressed. Tuesday night, the bond proposal was 20 votes short of 60 percent, but by Friday afternoon that deficit had doubled.It's not a good sign, but I'm hoping later absentees will be positive, Cole said Friday morning. Only an estimated 600 absentee ballots remain to be counted from South Whidbey. The election results will become official on March 10."

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