Voters split on Marysville school measures

MARYSVILLE — As of Feb. 11 at 4:11 p.m., the Marysville School District is looking at mixed blessings from the Feb. 9 special election.

Of the 13,135 ballots tallied so far, Proposition 1 has received 6,987 votes, or 53.19 percent of the vote, for a 20-year, $78 million bond measure to replace three aging schools and make improvements on other campuses.

Of the 13,151 ballots tallied so far, Proposition 2 has received 7,513 votes, or 57.13 percent of the vote, for a four-year operations levy to help pay the day-to-day costs of running schools, to replace a voter-approved levy that is expiring.

While this bodes well for the levy, which only requires a simple majority of 50 percent plus one vote to pass, it also makes it likely that the bond will not pass, since it requires a supermajority of 60 percent to do so.

MSD Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland and Pete Lundberg, co-chair of the Citizens for Marysville Schools, both expressed their appreciation to the voters for passing the levy, even as they shared their regrets about the bond and considered what their next steps might be.

Nyland explained that the next date that the bond could be placed on a ballot would be April 27, but noted that the MSD Board of Directors would have to take action in March for that to happen. He acknowledged the potential impacts of the economy and the legislative climate, even as he speculated on what more he could have done to get the word out.

“This would not have been a new tax in addition to the bond that people were already paying,” Nyland said. “If they were willing to pay a tax increase for their libraries, I thought they would also approve what would amount to a tax decrease for their schools. I don’t know if people thought it was too good to be true, but it was true. We could replace three obsolete school buildings, creating jobs in the process and paying $10 million to $20 million less in construction costs than we would otherwise, all while paying lower taxes.”

Nyland added that, if the passage of such a bond is delayed, the costs of construction are likely to go up in the meantime, thus reducing or eliminating potential cost savings.

Lundberg reported that, in the days since the election, he’s spoken with several voters who did indeed believe that the bond on the Feb. 9 ballot represented an additional bond, rather than a replacement for an expiring bond.

“If someone wasn’t following this story closely, I suppose it could have seemed counter-intuitive, that they could get more by paying less,” Lundberg said. “Maybe we could have sent out shorter messages. We’ll never have a better story to tell than we do now.”

Marysville resident Annie VanDeGrift, the parent of a Liberty Elementary student, urged community members to attend the next Citizens Planning Committee, March 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the MSD offices.

“I needed to understand how our taxes were going to go down, so I attended the Citizens Planning Committee meetings,” VanDeGrift said. “Our suffering economy is working in our favor. Construction costs are low and interest rates are even lower. Investors are hungry for reliable customers. It forces them to be competitive with their rates. It would be irresponsible of Marysville to ignore the fact that building these schools right now makes sense. As a growing city, we have to take advantage of this opportunity.”

“Marysville kids are too important not to have hot water to wash their hands, and deserve asbestos-free schools to learn in,” VanDeGrift said. “Marysville teachers should be able to teach and raise our children in efficient and safe buildings. My hope is that our community will take the initiative to get involved in the effort to put this bond back on the ballot.”

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