"Levy wins, bond wins"
June 25, 2008 · Updated 11:49 AM
"Election resultsSchools levy3,939 yes, 1,527 no - passed with 72 percentParks bond3,297 yes, 2,098 no - passed with 61 percentFinal unofficial results as of Friday afternoon. The election will be certified May 5.If there was ever any doubt that South Whidbey citizens support their schools, that doubt evaporated when the votes were counted in Tuesday's crucial levy election.Seventy-two percent of the voters supported the levy in what may have been a historic high for the South Whidbey School District.If teachers were dancing in the halls on Wednesday, who could blame them? The vote meant no layoffs, and the continuation of music, arts, athletics, and other programs as the community has come to know them.The levy for $3 million to be collected in both 2001 and 2002 failed on Feb. 29. Another failure would have forced some 40 layoffs district-wide, including teaching and maintenance and support staff. The Reduction in Force (RIF) list for teachers included the following positions: counselor, business/marketing, speech therapist, home economics/health, shop/PE, art/English, music, music/kindergarten, librarian, occupational therapist, and art specialist.But after the election, the dreaded RIF list became just another piece of school district trash ready for the recycling bin.The 72 percent favorable vote was far more than the 60 percent needed to pass. It's great, it's wonderful, said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lisa Bjork, speaking late on election night when the outcome was finally known. This represents the true spirit of the South Whidbey community.Debra Valis, co-chair of the citizens' levy committee, credited the big win to a person to person effort by many volunteers, and she thanked the community for its impressive support of schools.Seventy-two percent really makes a statement, added Dean Hatt. The statement, of course, is that South Whidbey residents do indeed support their schools.Parks Commissioners to purchase land soonWith its fortunes riding on margins thinner than those a bookie would offer for a Seattle Mariners-Cleveland Indians game, the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District got the go-ahead this week to spend almost $1.3 million to buy 30 acres of new park land and to build new soccer fields, trails, parking, and restroom facilities.Needing 60 percent of voters to say yes to a $1.283 million bond sale, the district's ballot item squeaked by with a 61 percent approval level. A measure for a similar amount of money failed by less than 2 percent in the Feb. 29 election.The near-final tally for the election was 3,297 saying yes, and 2098 saying no.Although the last 30 votes had not been counted by Friday morning, parks commissioner Curt Gordon said the district had already gone to work with Island County on the construction permits it will need to develop its new 30 acres. Since the district's option on the acreage runs out in about two weeks, Gordon said the district will also arrange for temporary financing for the purchase while it gets ready to sell the bonds that will cover the purchase price.Though just 53 votes ahead of the 60 percent pass-fail cutoff, Gordon was confident of the bond issue's passage even before the final count was made. It looks very good at this point, he said. I'm very pleased with the support we're getting from the public.The district's board of commissioners will discuss the bond and its upcoming projects at its May 17 meeting. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. in the parks and recreation office at South Whidbey Community Park."