Oak Harbor votes down school bond measure, Coupeville and South Whidbey levies passing

The first round of votes has been counted in the Feb. 8 special election, and the results bode ill for Oak Harbor School District, where just over 55% of voters have said no to a proposed bond measure.

Coupeville and South Whidbey School Districts fared better, with their four combined levy measures all getting the thumbs-up from voters, at least according to the early count.

Oak Harbor’s $184-million bond required a supermajority of 60% of the vote to pass. With less than 45% of voters casting their ballots in favor of the measure, it appears the bond won’t be getting off the ground this election cycle.

The bond would have funded construction of three new elementary schools, a new HomeConnection/Hand-in-Hand Early Childhood Learning Center and a new transportation center. The projects would have upgraded facilities and brought schools closer to the kids they serve.

“It’s a disappointment, of course,” said Oak Harbor School Board President John Diamond. “We had an incredible opportunity to get our kids out of portables and get upgraded spaces for our students and our staff for a better learning environment, but with the vote the way it’s looking right now, that won’t happen this go-around.”

The bond was eligible for over $140 million in match funding from the state and the Department of Defense. Diamond said only time will tell when or whether similar match funding opportunities will become available again. In coming weeks the board will discuss how to best move forward, including whether to pursue another bond in the near future.

In Coupeville School District, all three proposed levies are passing. The $1.95 million technology levy received the greatest showing of support with almost 56% of voters voting in favor as on Tuesday night. The $10.6 million operations levy is passing with 53% support, and the $6 million capital projects levy is scraping by with just under 51% of the vote.

In South Whidbey School District, the single replacement levy looks like it will pass comfortably with almost 66% of voters approving the measure. The levy will bring in around $3.5 million per year over three years.

The South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District’s maintenance and operations levy will also likely be approved with an overwhelming 72% of the vote.