It's not final, but the Culver School District's long odyssey to fund what it considers essential upgrades appears to be over.
Ballot counting on the $8.8 million bond stalled on election night with 588 “yes” votes against 585 “no” votes. The Jefferson County Clerk's Office later identified four ballots that had either been dropped off with Deschutes County elections officials or had flawed or missing signatures. On Wednesday, two of those ballots were counted, and both were “yes” votes.
“We still have to wait until Friday at 5,” said County Clerk Kathy Marston. “There are two more ballots out there that belong to the Culver School District, and we have to wait and give those people until Friday at 5 to verify their signatures or sign their ballots.”
With a current count of 590 “yes” votes to 585 “no” votes, the remaining votes can't tip the scales, but they could trigger a recount. Any tally that is within three votes will lead to a hand recount. Marston said that this vote was the closest she's ever seen.
Culver Schools Superintendent Stefanie Garber said she was elated by the news.
“I just don't even know what to do with myself,” she said. “It's sort of surreal after four years of incredibly hard work to have it work out in a positive, and potentially we don't need to do this again (in) 15 years.”
The bond package will fund improvements to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, electrical systems and security measures. The district will also add classrooms to the district's elementary, middle and high schools, and all three will be brought into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
“I'm just so thrilled that this will be our last winter where it's freezing or sweltering depending on what classroom you are in,” Garber said. “We'll also be able to eliminate having so many entrances to the elementary school that are unsupervised.”
Earlier bond measures that sought to tackle a longer list of deficiencies at Culver schools failed. A November 2006 bond seeking $20 million won the support of just 38 percent of voters, while a $14.5 million bond put to voters in November 2011 won just 33 percent support.
Last May, the district got close with 47 percent of voters supporting a $9.8 million bond. Despite the district's decision to scale back its request this time by about $1 million, the apparently successful November bond will cost individual residents nearly the same as the bond rejected in May. Due to rising interest rates, the tax rate of $2.60 per $1,000 in assessed value associated with the November bond is just 3 cents below what voters were asked to pay in May.