BATTLE GROUND — According to the most recently released election results, it looks like the $80 million school bond that the Battle Ground School District decided to run on the Nov. 8 ballot won’t reach the 60 percent necessary to pass.
According to the Clark County Elections results website, last updated Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 5:10 p.m., 14,143 (53.75 percent) votes had been counted in favor of the bond, while 12,171 (46.25 percent) votes were against. Bonds require a 60 percent supermajority in order to pass.
“I am disappointed about the bond, but it is what it is,” Superintendent Mark Hottowe said Wednesday afternoon. “The community members are the ones who decide these things. It’s our business as employees of the school district to manage the facilities and make sure we do the best we can with what we have, and we will continue to do that.”
“We will continue to keep our buildings in good repair, we will keep students warm and dry and safe,” Hottowe continued. “We will continue to do our best to accommodate growth, at some point classes will become overcrowded. When they happens, we will do our best to distribute students as best we can throughout schools, we’ll put in extra classrooms when we need to.”
As far as how the district plans to move forward, Hottowe said his first answer would be that they don’t have a concrete plan in place.
“There was no reason for the (school) board to have a ‘backup plan’ per say, and assume that the bond would fail,” Hottowe said. “We wanted to assume the bond would pass and we would move forward with the work we wanted to do.”
However, since that doesn’t appear to be the case, Hottowe said district officials plan to move forward with some work that they’ve already started in order to help with overcrowding and growth in the district. For example, he said the district has already started work with Clark County to put sewer at the Glenwood/Laurin campus, a project that is going to cost about $1 million to complete.
“We’ve been working on that (sewer) since the summer,” Hottowe said. “It’s something that we need to do, the schools there are currently on a septic system that is at capacity. If we work with the county to get the sewer, we can add a 10-plex (modular classrooms) perhaps as early as next summer. That’s 10 additional classrooms on that campus to help with some of the overcrowding and potentially help offer some growth room for students coming to the district in the future.”
Hottowe said that most of the population growth issues are in the south end of the district currently, so district officials plan to focus on that area. A 10-plex was put in at the Pleasant Valley campus not long ago and Hottowe said he is hopeful that those schools will be “marginally OK” for the next several years.
As far as running another bond goes, Hottowe said school board members have not yet discussed when they might put another bond on a ballot.
“At some point, perhaps in the next year or so, the board may make a decision when they feel the community is more ready to support a bond and may decide to go back out and put another ballot measure on for a bond,” Hottowe said. “The facilities committee did such an awesome job on the long-range plan and the minimum (tax rate) of 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on a home. If the community thinks that’s too much, then we just need to wait.”
Hottowe said that on Tuesday evening, he and Rita Sanders, communications manager for the district, attended a gathering at Mill Creek Pub of the Citizens for Better Schools, along with some of the school board members, to await the results. He said those who attended the gathering were upset and saddened by the result, and that everyone was a bit sad that the district won’t be able to move forward with “what we think is a great plan at this moment in time.”
“We (district officials) all believe that the schools belong to the community,” Hottowe said. “The community has to make the final decision as to what they want for buildings. We just work here, we don’t own the schools, the community does. We believe in that process of allowing the community to make the decision. Obviously, I wish the community had felt differently, but I appreciate the fact that all of these people had the opportunity to vote and weigh in on this.”
In order to see how different precincts in Clark County voted on the Battle Ground school bond, visit the Clark County Elections website.