Toledo voters Tuesday roundly rejected the school district’s fourth attempt to pass a bond to improve deteriorating schools.
The $12.2 million measure had 51 percent voter approval Tuesday night — far short of the required 60 percent supermajority.
Superintendent Chris Rust said he was disappointed but not completely surprised.
“We cut about $2 million in projects off this measure, and yet folks felt like it was the same thing — (that) we were just asking again,” Rust said.
Voters rejected a $14.2 million bond one year ago and a $12.9 million bond in November. They also nixed a $23.5 million bond in 2014.
The November measure fell just 31 votes short of passing. But Tuesday’s measure would have needed another 120 yes votes among the 1,391 ballots cast.
Improvements to the 42-year-old high school would have included restoring the roof, replacing leaking windows, installing permanent walls, performing seismic upgrades, adding ventilation features and installing security measures. The bond also would have paid for some improvements to the middle and elementary schools.
School Board Chairman Brad Dykstra said he was disappointed with the low turnout. Lewis County turnout was reported at 34 percent.
“This is one of the few elections that you can actually see your dollars at work,” Dykstra said. “This is a school that benefits everybody in this community.”
He added that some voters felt the bond supporters campaigned too aggressively last fall, so they toned down the campaign this time around.
“In every election we’ve tried to listen to the patrons and make modifications. I think sometimes that gets lost in misinformation that gets put out there,” Dykstra said.
Dykstra and Rust said they will explore alternative funding options, including reaching out to state legislators for funding.
Rust said the school district plans to use grants and existing funds to finish as many projects as possible.
“My concern is that costs are going to do nothing but go up, and there’s really nothing left to cut (from the bond proposal),” Rust said. “But we’ll just keep working. We want the kids to be able to do the best they can.”