Renton school bond measure wins

June 5, 2008

By Jim Feehan

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Voters approve $150 million proposal on second try

The second time is a charm.

The Renton School District’s $150 million construction bond measure was approved by nearly 62 percent of voters in the May 20 election.

The victory comes two months after the measure failed by 78 votes to achieve the required 60 percent supermajority in a March 11 election. Two levies passed in that election – one to pay for technology and the other for maintenance and operations.

Election night results showed the bond losing by 23 votes, but subsequent tallies, from ballots that have continued to trickle in, gave the measure a comfortable margin with nearly 62 percent approval. The election was an all-mail one, with ballots having to be postmarked by May 20. Some people sent theirs in earlier, while others waited until the deadline.

“I’m thrilled by the community’s support of the bond measure,” said Renton Superintendent Mary Alice Heuschel. “The Yes on Renton Schools campaign worked hard to get the word out. Getting people to understand what the bond was about and the high turnout helped us.”

Some students who recently turned 18 cast their ballots in the May 2008 election, including Hazen High School senior Brian Kooiman. On Election Day, Kooiman had yet to receive his ballot in the mail.

He had registered to vote just one month earlier – the day he turned 18 – and for Kooiman, voting was a rite of passage.

“I learned the importance of voting in government class,” he said. “I learned that voting is the most important way to have your voice heard.”

The election would be Kooiman’s first and he wasn’t going to give up easily. When his ballot failed to show up in the mail Election Day, he called around to find out what to do next. His only option was to drive to the King County Elections Office in Renton, after graduation practice, and vote in person.

When he arrived, Elections Office personnel challenged him about whether he lived within Renton School District boundaries and was qualified to vote. Kooiman offered proof of residence and made his case that he was eligible. After some give and take, he was given a provisional ballot and cast a yes vote for the bond measure, he said.

The bond will pay for a new 10-classroom wing at Hazen High School. The school will also get improvements to the kitchen, gymnasium and athletic fields. The bond also includes an $8 million overhaul for Renton Memorial Stadium, where all district high school teams play football, soccer and track and field.



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