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UPDATE: Mercer Island School Bond Appears Headed for Defeat in Special Election

Election night results show local voters are overwhelmingly rejecting a $196 million Mercer Island School District construction bond measure

Update, April 17, 9:30 p.m.: The "Yes" campaign to approve the Mercer Island School District bond has conceeded the race after initial voter returns indicated the measure was headed for defeat, with 60.6 percent opposed.

The Committee for Mercer Island Public Schools (CMIPS) issued the following statement about an hour after King County Elections released their election night vote totals:

"We are disappointed for our students, staff and the Mercer Island Community that based on current trend, we did not achieve the needed 60% hurdle to pass this bond measure.

We knew that it would be challenging to fully communicate a plan of this magnitude to the entire island in such a short time frame; and we are gratified with the community support achieved so far for the bond measure.   We will work to understand this vote and what we are hearing as we consider next steps.

We are highly concerned because the capacity crisis remains, and will need to be addressed with increasingly drastic measures as the district rapidly runs out of room for additional portables.  Even more concerning is that this vote imposes a delay of unknown length to solving the crisis and removing the daily obstacles to education excellence caused by current overcrowding.

We offer our deepest appreciation and gratitude to those that have worked tirelessly and selflessly for the past 4 years to research, evaluate, create and advocate for this measure:  The 21st Century Facilities Planning Committee Volunteers, the School Board, the excellent and unflagging MISD administration, and the many community volunteers who have contributed to the process and the plan.  Our thanks as well to our fellow Committee for Mercer Island Public Schools (CMIPS) members.

Finally, we would like to congratulate the Issaquah community, who successfully passed its bond measure to build new schools."

Update, April 17, 8:36 p.m.: The released the following statement on the defeat of the school bond measure, with 60.6 percent of voters opposed:

"We would like to extend our deepest appreciation to the citizens of Mercer Island for participating in the democratic process and exercising their right to vote on Bond Resolution No. 592 to modernize and expand facilities. While we are very disappointed with the outcome, we are grateful for the dedication of the many volunteers who worked long and hard to help us bring this historic bond vote to the community. At this point, we plan to take some time to pause, reflect and dig deeply into the issues so that we can better understand why the majority of citizens has voted no. Thank you again."

MISD Superintendent Gary Plano also issued an additional statement in his own words in the school district press release.

"While we will be taking some time to digest the message we have received today, we are keenly aware that our schools are overcrowded and more students are coming.”

According to the press release, the MISD move forward the selection of with two architectural firms who will work with staff and community on the development of educational specifications for future school designs.

“I am confident that our teachers and staff will continue to work within our existing facilities and will provide the very best education possible to Mercer Island students and their families,” Plano said.

...

Original Story: Mercer Island residents rejected a $196 million proposal to rebuild all of Mercer Island School District's K-8 schools at the polls Tuesday.

The district's $196 million school construction and modernization bond measure appeared to be headed for defeat, trailing by more than 1,700 votes, according to early returns from King County Elections on Tuesday evening.

With 48 percent of ballots returned, the school bonds are failing 61-39 percent, according to King County Elections. Over 1,000 ballots arrived today and another 200 ballots are still yet to be counted by election workers — with more ballots expected to arrive over the rest of the week.

The school bond would have also paid for a new science wing at , provided for significant repairs to extend the life of , renovated , bought more land for future MISD use and a funded the drafting of a master plan for the so-called Mega-Block campus.

For Islanders with long memories, the vote against the bond ‚ first in the 1970s and again in the early 1990s, when a large, $50 million bond to rebuild and renovate several other schools overwhelmingly failed by a similar margin (on election night the margin was 30 percent). Several smaller school bonds in the mid-1990s were offered and approved instead.

Elsewhere in King County, the of the 60 percent needed to pass a $97 million bond, with the "Yes" vote currently at 59.49 percent of 14,967 votes cast (). Voters in Issaquah, on the other hand, have given overwhelming approval to a $219 million school bond issue, 69.2 percent "Yes" and 30.8 voting "No".

Mercer Island's turnout easily surpassed expected Special Election turnout of 34 percent.

This is a breaking news story. Check back with Mercer Island Patch for updates.

Mercer Island School District No. 400

Ballots Cast Registered Voters Percent 8147 16953 48.06% Proposition No. 1 General Obligation Bonds - $196,275,000 Position Votes Percent APPROVED 3206 39.38% REJECTED 4936 60.62%

King County Cumulative Verified Total

District Total Issued Received Today Cumulative Verified To Date % Verified COUNTYWIDE 237518 6102 69545 29.28

King County Special Election Ballot Returns By District

District Total Issued Received Today Cumulative Verified To Date % Verified CITY OF ENUMCLAW 6406 174 2138 33.37 CITY OF AUBURN 28393 625 7244 25.51 MERCER ISLAND SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 400 16989 1022 8368 49.26 RENTON SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 403 57143 1168 15404 26.96 ISSAQUAH SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 411 59631 1851 19761 33.14 SOUTH KING FIRE AND RESCUE 68956 1262 16630 24.12

— Information from King County Elections, Last updated: 4/17/2012 8:00 PM

Breck Longstreth April 18, 2012 at 09:08 PM
I appreciate the measured and conciliatory response to the failure of the bond by the Mercer Island School District. I am appalled by the tone of the CMIPS response, which I find condescending and snide. Methinks "sour grapes" and "sore losers."
Lori Langston April 19, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Mr. Zwingle -- Your comments are inappropriate and unproductive for this forum and detract from whatever credibility you may bring to the table. For the sake of a more positive approach to moving forward for our schools, please refrain from making personal attacks on the people who work tirelessly for our students. As the saying goes, "You can't judge a man, unless you've walked a mile in his shoes." Thank you.
Ira B. Appelman April 20, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Good suggestion: Carv Zwingle for Superintendent!! I've been telling the opposition that Gary Plano is a good choice to lead Islanders to a new school improvement plan, but after last night's School Board meeting I'm not sure that's right. Showing absolute contempt for the vote, Plano brought in the architects he selected to do the demolition/rebuild and got Board approval to move forward drawing up contracts with those architects to do a deceptive "ed specs" process that will inevitably lead to the same or similar demolition/rebuild plan. The strategy is clearly to give lip service to the vote while following the same or similar plan. It's up to Islanders, but if Plano and the Board sign a contract with the demolition/rebuild architects, I'm going to recommend that we get some new shoes.
Kendall Watson April 20, 2012 at 10:23 PM
@Jeff, That's true, Mercer Island Patch was very much designed as an interactive, collaborative site that aspires to become a community forum where anyone and everyone can contribute. But there are limits to what is allowed here, outlined in detail here: http://mercerisland.patch.com/terms Generally speaking, I would appreciate it if commenters would simply observe these three simple tenents: “Keep it clean,” “Don’t try to trick people,” and “Treat others as you’d like to be treated.” I've been getting a lot of feedback lately that some folks here are getting carried away and personalize issues that can easily be discussed in a principled way. There are a number of posts that are very close to the line ("defamatory, abusive, obscene, profane or offensive" is not allowed), but are technically not violating our Terms of Use. Please keep these guidelines in mind when formulating a comment and if you have to go back and check them, it's probably best that you re-write whatever caused you to check them in the first place.
George Stanton April 21, 2012 at 02:25 AM
We are lucky to have such a thoughtful and committed superintendent in Gary Plano. It is easy to criticize, to nay-say, and to shoot holes in any plan. It is much harder to get involved in the process and take criticism for doing a lot of hard work. The above attitude is not helpful and is downright disrespectful.

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