A $53.5 million school bond in Pullman needs only about 70 more votes, pro or con, to be validated on Tuesday, according to numbers released by the Pullman School District late Monday.
That doesn’t mean this bond to renovate Pullman High School will pass, however.
For the bond to be validated, 4,048 voters, or 40 percent, who participated in the last general election must vote on it. To pass, the bond must then receive a supermajority of 60 percent, in addition to validation.
Without validation, a bond automatically fails.
Superintendent Paul Sturm doesn't mind the challenge.
"It should be difficult to incur this kind of debt," he said.
The vote comes at a time when bonds are failing across the state. Only 27 percent of school bonds passed in 2011, and about half succeeded in 2012, according to election results. Many of them failed validation, according to state election results.
In western Washington, voters are considering hundreds of millions of dollars to build new schools or fix aging ones in Seattle and Tacoma, according to The Seattle Times.
In Pullman, the bond would add $1.62 per every $1,000 of assessed property value, bringing the total property tax rate up to $6.36 per $1,000.
For a home valued at $200,000, property taxes would increase by $324 per year, or $27 per month, to pay for the bond to renovate the high school.
Built in 1972, Pullman High School is peppered with 60 different entrances, all of which have to remain unlocked for students to use.
"We have way too many accesses in and out of that building," said Dan Hornfelt, executive director of support services for the district.
Constructed in an experimental "open concept" style, Pullman High School has undergone several renovations, mostly to fix this original plan. Classrooms vary dramatically in size, and the school’s heating is distributed unevenly. Some rooms can only be reached by walking through other classrooms.
Pullman High is also at its electrical capacity, with staff and students in multimedia facilities often having to turn lights off in nearby rooms in order to run cameras and computer equipment. The thick concrete walls make any changes to the wiring difficult, Sturm said.
The new building, which could be completed as early as 2017, would be more energy efficient and secure, with only two main entrances, supporters said. It would also provide more uniform and accessible classrooms, as well as greater handicapped access and equal gym and locker room space for male and female students.
In addition to funding the renovation, the bond will also fund a $2 million expansion at Franklin Elementary, which would receive new classrooms in order to accommodate an increase in enrollment.
For more information, visit the Pullman School District website.