Supporters of bond measures in the West Valley and Sunnyside school districts are ready to get to work now that the Feb. 12 election results are official.
Sunnyside’s measure passed with 63.5 percent approval and West Valley had 60.8 percent, according to a certified vote result from the Yakima County Auditor’s Office on Friday. Bond measures need 60 percent approval to pass. The measures will fund school construction projects.
“We’re thrilled at the district. We’re excited to get together and plan the next step. We have a meeting on Wednesday to decide what our steps will be,” said Anjerie Nemrow, communications director for West Valley.
“Different schools have been celebrating individually,” she said, adding that a board meeting at 7 p.m. March 11 at Apple Valley Elementary would include a celebration that’s open to the public.
In Sunnyside, Superintendent Kevin McKay said there had also been celebrations among parents and staff advocating for the measure.
“Now we’ve gone into the phase of starting to plan to make sure that all the taxpayer money … is put to the benefit of our students,” he said.
The canvassing board met to review challenged ballots on Thursday before certifying results Friday.
Sunnyside’s 20-year, $16 million bond will be paired with $2 million in district funds and $6.5 million in state matching funds. The $24.5 million total will pay for added classrooms, multiuse learning spaces and facilities, and new parking, sidewalks, courtyards and access roads at Sunnyside High School.
McKay said the district is working with architects to add more detail to previous plans. With state matching funds available in summer 2020, he expects school classroom and fine arts buildings to be ready for the 2021 school year, with the remainder completed a year later.
The 20-year, $59 million bond measure in West Valley will be matched with $12 million in state funding and cover the construction of two new schools to replace Apple Valley and Summitview elementary schools, which officials say have become overcrowded and outdated.
“We’re excited to start this process,” said Ryan Mathews, a parent who is involved in the Vote Yes campaign for Citizens for Better Schools. “We’ve had every question you can imagine as far as when will the buildings be built, what will they look like, how many classrooms will there be, and those are all questions that now we can answer. Before they were dreams, but now we can see the reality.”
Voters also approved local school levies in Highland and Selah. Selah’s levy was at 59 percent approval, and Highland’s passed with 69 percent support. Levies need 50 percent plus one vote approval to pass.
A total of 15,963 ballots were counted. Turnout was 37 percent.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been changed to correct the date and time of the March 11 celebration at Apple Valley Elementary.