Voters soundly reject $125 million Ferndale school bond

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 12, 2014 

FERNDALE - Ferndale will have to scrap its plans for a new high school, as election results Tuesday night, Feb. 11, show voters overwhelmingly rejecting a $125 million school bond.

Only about 30 percent of voters were in favor the bond, according to results from the Whatcom County Auditor's Office. The bond requires 60 percent voter approval to pass.

The bond would have covered rebuilding Ferndale High School, remodeling a home for Windward High School at either North Bellingham or Mountain View elementary schools and building a new maintenance and transportation center on a corner of the Mountain View property.

The high school, which has been built up piecemeal since 1933, is costly to maintain and its failing infrastructure can't keep up with the demands of modern technology, district officials have said. A pump on a 29-year-old boiler at the high school broke over the weekend and couldn't be replaced until midday Monday, forcing the school to move classes from the coldest part of the school the day before ballots were due.

Many voters balked at the price tag for the projects. The bond would have increased property taxes by up to $1.72 per $1,000 of a home's assessed value, meaning an additional $430 in property taxes each year for the owner of a home valued at $250,000.

Superintendent Linda Quinn said though it would have been nice to pass the bond, the experience was worth it because it got the community involved in the discussion about a new high school. That discussion will continue as the district’s facilities advisory commit-tee reconvenes.

“A lot of people stepped forward and gave us input,” Quinn said. “We just know the plan we put forward this time is not the one people wanted. … We’ll go back to the drawing board armed with lots of information.”

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com. Read her School Days blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/schools or follow her on Twitter at @bhamschools.

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