District is hoping a gamble to quickly send the bond back to voters pays off in April
BATTLE GROUND — Will the third time be the charm for the Battle Ground School District bond measure?
After coming up 220 votes shy of the 60 percent approval needed to pass their $224.9 million dollar bond last month, members of the Battle Ground School Board made the decision to put it back on the ballot next month. The district is hoping for a similar outcome to 2013, when their operations levy failed in February, then gained nearly 10 percent to pass the following April.
“It’s hard, in two month’s time, for us to go out and say ‘hey, we’re really going to change a lot of people’s minds’,” says Battle Ground Schools Superintendent Mark Ross, “but if we can focus on the people that we know are positive, maybe we get more people voting.”
A breakdown of the vote by precincts shows areas north of Amboy and outside of Yacolt, as well as the east side of the district, were heavily against the bond.
“Part of the problem in Battle Ground is that we are a large, spread out district,” Ross says. “We’re 285 square miles. So if you’re in an area that got a new building in the 2005 bond, and you’re sitting with a nicer, newer, safer building like in Amboy or Tukes (Valley), you may not see the need as much.”
Ross says their goal of district officials between now and April 24 won’t be to change minds in those outlying areas, but to focus on increasing turnout in the southern part of the school district. That’s where much of the population growth currently is, and where the largest amount of support for the bond existed in February.
“We had some precincts that were over 70 percent yes votes, but only about 20 percent of the people voted,” says Ross. “Right around Prairie High School, which is one of our major growing areas, there are 1,500 eligible voters in that precinct, and only about 300 voted, and of those it was about 70 percent yes.”
The district’s proposal is to replace Glenwood Heights Primary School, nearby Laurin Middle School, as well as Pleasant Valley primary and middle schools. The money would also build a new primary and middle school along 152nd Avenue, and develop a site for CAM Academy, the district’s Alternative Learning Experience campus, along with replacing and adding several buildings at Prairie High School.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of growth in the Pleasant Valley area, and the Glenwood/Laurin area, apartments along 119th and 503,’’ Ross said. “And still a projected amount of growth, according to our study, that in the next 10 years we’ll grow by 1,500 to 2,500 more students. And, predominantly, those are going to be in the south end.”
The school district is holding a Bond Information Meeting March 28, 6 p.m. in the library at Prairie High School, 11311 NE 119th St, Vancouver.
Clark County Today will also run a special two-part series focusing on both sides of the debate at the beginning of April, so check back for that.