News Column

Tenino to Revisit Bond Issue in April Election

February 27, 2014

By Christopher Brewer, The Chronicle, Centralia, Wash.

Feb. 27--We all know the time-tested adage that says if you don't succeed, try, try again -- and proponents of a February bond to fund an overhaul for several aging Tenino schools are adhering to that counsel.

The Feb. 11 special election gave citizens living in the boundaries of the Tenino School District a chance to fund a $38 million bond at a proposed tax rate of $2.83 per $1,000 in assessed property value. The measure fell just short, getting 56.8 percent of a necessary 60 percent supermajority.

The Tenino School District Board of Directors voted unanimously Monday to rerun the bond issue in the April 22 special election. The same exact bond will be proposed to voters, but what's changing is how proponents of the measure are approaching the public.

Tenino school officials will once again ask voters to approve a 25-year, $38 million bond to expand and renovate the district's elementary schools and Tenino Middle School, as well as provide essential upgrades such as technology, electrical and roofing systems, and new student dropoff and pickup areas. A new gymnasium at Tenino High School is also included in the proposal.

School board President Trisha Claridge acknowledged it's quite a quick turnaround to ask voters to weigh in on the issue again, but she's confident the bond can pass.

"Right now it's a great time to run it again, because people already know a good share of the information," Claridge told The Chronicle Wednesday. "But our delivery of getting the correct info to people wasn't as strong as it could have been."

Claridge said many people who live on the north side of the school district reside in either an Olympia or a Rainier ZIP code. Mailed material from citizens asking the public to vote yes were sent out to just the Tenino ZIP code and might not have reached the northernmost residents.

"When you look at the precincts and how they voted, that hurt us," Claridge said. "Now we've done a little checking and know what we have to do."

Claridge also said some people have indicated that they were apprehensive about taking on an additional tax burden, especially in a district that hasn't run a bond for many years. Some people also felt unclear on just how much money was going to various projects as proposed, Claridge said.

"We needed to better show the whole pie. The vast majority is going to the educational facilities," Claridge said.

Thurston County elections officials have not received the official proposal that will go on the April 22 ballot yet, but the district has until March 7 to send it in.

Those who want the bond to pass are optimistic that they can get that handful of votes that will push the measure over the top and greenlight a massive update of Tenino's schools, many of which were built in the late 1970s.

"We feel like we can do this with a few more people doing the work and a campaign plan of really getting out the word," Claridge said.

Christopher Brewer: (360) 807-8235 / Facebook: Chris Brewer -- The Chronicle / Twitter: @iamchrisbrewer


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Source: Chronicle, The (Centralia, WA)

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