After an agonizing three weeks for supporters and opponents alike, it’s official: the $99.5 million bond to ease overcrowding in the Pasco School District has passed.
The margin was razor thin — about seven votes.
The bond needed 60 percent approval, and it ended up with 60.07 percent after the last ballots were counted Tuesday.
The final tally was 6,270 in favor and 4,167 against, for a total of 10,437 votes cast. The results are official.
“We’re extremely grateful to our community,” Pasco Superintendent Michelle Whitney said in a statement.
The bond is “the first step in the district’s multilayered approach to alleviate overcrowding and reduce the number of portables at our schools. Our citizen-led Community Builders group did a great job determining the district’s most urgent needs to support our students and schools. Thanks to their efforts, this bond represents the collective work of our community,” she said.
The bond went to a vote Nov. 7. The results have been a roller coaster leading up to Tuesday’s certification.
After the first count on election night, the measure was failing. It later gained ground and eventually pulled ahead by three votes.
Then, it fell behind again — failing by a single vote as of the Nov. 13 ballot count.
Since then, supporters and opponents have been waiting on tenterhooks for Tuesday’s final results.
Pasco Citizens for Better Schools, the community group that worked to promote the bond, raised more than $2,200 in case it would need to request a recount.
On Facebook on Tuesday, the group’s supporters celebrated the bond win.
“Good job everyone from the bond committee to everyone that ever said, ‘Let’s pass a bond this year!!!’ and then took action to help get it passed!” one woman wrote.
“This made me teary eyed. The kids and children deserve this!” wrote another.
Not everyone saw the results in the same light.
Roger Lenk, who led opposition to the bond, said the narrow margin shows the community’s lack of trust in the district’s spending.
“Kennewick and Richland (school district) voters overwhelmingly approve bonds, but Pasco voters do not, even though the need is known,” he said. “They really need to work on (their spending practices) if they want voters to overwhelmingly pass these kinds of measures.”
Lenk said he doesn’t plan to request a recount.
The school district proposed the bond to address overcrowding. It will pay for two new elementary schools, a new middle school and rebuilding Stevens Middle school, plus some other projects.
It will cost property owners an estimated 59 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $118 annually for a $200,000 home.
The district has seen steady enrollment growth during the past decade, stretching capacity and stressing facilities.
As of October, it had more than 18,000 students — an increase of 37 percent over fall 2007.