PROSSER -- It appears unlikely that the Prosser School District will run another bond election to replace its high school until 2013.
Voters on Tuesday failed to pass a $39 million bond that -- together with state matching money -- would have paid for a new high school east of Art Fiker Stadium.
"I'm very disappointed," said Superintendent Ray Tolcacher. "I was hoping our kids would have a new high school by 2014."
Election results show 1,931 voters, or almost 55 percent, approved the measure, while 1,590 voters, or 45 percent, opposed it. The bond needed 60 percent approval to pass.
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The district eventually will have to run another bond to replace its 65-year-old high school. Under state law, it can't do so this year, after two failed attempts.
Early next year, the district will need to run a different type of tax measure -- a levy replacement election. School districts rely on maintenance and operations levies to help pay for everything from electricity to extracurricular programs, but not for building projects.
And Tolcacher explained that while nothing is yet decided on when to rerun the bond measure, it would be unusual to run two property tax measures in the same year.
He said the district will have to continue doing what it's done for many years -- patch up the existing school and make sure it's safe for kids.
But the impact of this election will go beyond students and classrooms, Tolcacher said. "Our schools are used just about 24 hours a day" by community groups and others, he said.
"I don't think the folks that were adamantly opposed to this really understood the impact," Tolcacher said.
That heavy use of the schools is one reason why the project couldn't be built for less money, as many had suggested.
"It would fall apart before it's paid off," Tolcacher said. "It has to last 40 to 50 years."
* Jacques Von Lunen: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org