The Redmond School District’s $70 million bond measure is likely to fail despite its narrow approval by voters in Deschutes County, thanks to voters in Crooked River Ranch fiercely opposing it.
The majority of nearly 22,000 Deschutes County voters in the school district approved the bond by fewer than 250 votes, according to unofficial election results. But the 1,853 voters from Jefferson County who live in the Redmond School District opposed the bond measure by 2-to-1 margin, leading to its apparent failure by 1.7 percentage points.
The northern tip of the Redmond School District encompasses Crooked River Ranch, a rural subdivision that lies partly in Deschutes County and partly in Jefferson County. The ranch is home to about 4,700 people, a mostly older group of retirees and conservatives.
Redmond School District Superintendent Mike McIntosh said Wednesday morning that he was “disappointed” in the results, and he wasn’t sure why voters in Crooked River Ranch rejected the bond strongly.
“I’m not in a position to say … why they had such a high ‘no’ vote count,” he said. “That’s up to them.”
If the bond measure had passed, homeowners in the 550-square-mile school district would have paid $9 per month for homes valued at $200,000.
About $27 million of the bond would have gone toward rebuilding the aging M.A. Lynch Elementary, which was built in 1965 and suffers from structural problems. The district’s website said Lynch was built “with lower quality construction,” and McIntosh said earlier this year that, during heavy snowfalls, the school’s roof sags.
The bond would also have funded security measures such as upgrading security camera systems, eliminating multiple entryways at middle and high schools, adding a secure lobby at each elementary school and replacing the district’s emergency communications system. Schools throughout the district would have received LED lighting and energy-efficient windows, along with technology upgrades to modernize classrooms.
McIntosh said that he believes these upgrades and a Lynch replacement are still necessary, despite the bond’s likely failure.
“What is certain in my brain is that the need and the urgency has not diminished,” he said Wednesday morning. “I still believe strongly that we need to replace Lynch elementary school; we have safety concerns with respect to our physical buildings. We have deteriorating infrastructure. Those needs still exist.”
McIntosh said he plans on “circling the wagons” and gathering district leadership, the school board and community members to discuss what the district’s next step is. He warned that the cost of replacing Lynch and adding security and infrastructure improvements would only become more expensive in a potential future bond.
Still, the superintendent said he harbored no ill will toward ‘no’ voters.
“Every part of me says there’s room to be optimistic and room to understand that people have to exercise their right to vote and vote the way they did, and I have a ton of grace and respect for people,” McIntosh said. “We’ll figure it out from there.”
All election results must be certified by the Secretary of State’s Office by Dec. 6.
Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship told The Bulletin that a recount would only be required if the difference between “yes” and “no” votes is one-fifth of one percent or less.
— Reporter: 541-617-7854, firstname.lastname@example.org