The district's operations levy, which was also on the February special election ballot, passed with 62 percent voter approval.
Renton School District’s nearly $250 million school-construction bond has failed.
The bond, which would have paid for a new elementary school, building repairs and additional classrooms, received the super majority support from voters — more than 60 percent approval — it needed to pass. But even with that lead, it was ultimately about 1,500 votes shy of the required 18,578 turnout.
This marks the second time in seven years that a school-construction bond has failed in Renton. In 2012, the district tried twice to run a $97 million bond, succeeding the second time.
But bonds are not the only way school districts can raise money for construction, building maintenance and repairs. They can also use levies, which require only a simple majority of voter approval with no minimum turnout. Seattle, for example, has two six-year school-construction levies that simultaneously raise money.
Renton passed a $155.5 million construction levy in February 2016.
The district’s operations levy, which was also on the February special-election ballot, passed with 62 percent voter approval.
Turnout for this election was lower than what King County Elections Department officials projected. Election Day, Feb. 12, came at the tail end of snowfall that blanketed the Puget Sound region. Spotty mail service, according to a spokeswoman, is one factor in the lower turnout.
Since minimum turnout for bond measures must be 40 percent of the district residential area’s turnout in the most recent general election, the bar changes from year to year. Given the larger turnout during the 2018 midterm elections, the bar was set pretty high.
“We’ve had some elections where the minimum turnout was 7,500,” said Randy Matheson, Renton School District spokesman.
In a tweet posted on Feb. 13, Renton Superintendent Damien Pattenaude said the School Board would decide whether to run another bond or a capital levy.
This year, lawmakers in Olympia are considering proposals that would amend the constitutional requirements around school bonds to make their passage requirements easier.
So far in 2019, about a third of 15 total school-bond measures have failed.
Bond passage usually fluctuates based on economic conditions, such as how much people feel they can afford in additional taxes, said Justin Rogers, director of the school facilities division of the state education department. Three years after the stock market crash in 2008, 28 out of 33 bonds proposed failed.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Renton School District bonds have failed three times over the past seven years. They failed twice. The district succeeded in its second attempt in 2012.