Voter turnout appeared sparse on the eve of the Feb. 14 special election, with less than 24 percent of the 57,039 ballots returned within the .
"Renton School District elections routinely receive between 15,000 to 17,000 votes," said School District spokesperson Randy Matheson.
As of last Friday approximately 10,000 ballots had been returned, he said. Although that number is "a bit low," Matheson added that the Citizens for Renton Schools campaign hosted nightly phone banks and the group expects that many people will mail their ballots over the weekend.
As of Monday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. 13,165 ballots had been returned, according to the King County Elections Office.
If you haven't returned your ballot, here's a primer on what's inside:
Three education measures appear on this ballot: Prop. 1, which will replace an expiring maintenance and operations levy; Prop. 2, which would create a building improvement fund though the sale of bonds; and Prop. 3, a new levy that would pay for improvements to the District's technology facilities and fund technology instruction. Click here for a full explanation of the measures and how they could help the School District and affect taxes for Renton property owners.
Most of the questions received by District officials have been about the possible tax rate changes and where the new middles school will be located, Matheson said.
When asked if the district was concerned about voter turnout, Matheson explained, "If the bond does not pass, we will not have funding to build a new middle school, repair the Lindbergh pool, or be able to do any of the needed work on other schools. If the Education Maintenance and Operations Replacement levy doesn’t pass, we will local funding of schools and which is 30 cents of every dollar spent in every school, per year (funding for books, classroom materials, teacher pay, school lunches, school bus transportation and more)."
Prop. 2 includes the ability of the District to purchase land for new facilities. Since the new middle school is slated to be built on the current Renton Academy site in Newcastle, some voters have been confused about the option to purchase additional property.
Matheson explained the wording as routine, and as a way to allow the District to purchase addition land if needed.
"Because of continued growth of the district (more than 100 students each year for the past 7 years), we place the capacity to acquire property in all bond measures (less than 5 percent of the overall measure) to have the capacity to purchase land if any becomes available over the next few years," he said.
Ballots must be post marked on or by Tuesday, Feb. 14, or placed in an elections drop box no later than 8 p.m. that same day. Drop boxes for the February election are located at King County Election, 919 SW Grady Way in Renton; Issaquah City Hall, 130 East Sunset Way; Regional Justice Center, 401 4th Ave. N. in Kent; Federal Way City Hall, 33325 8th Ave. S.; and King County Administration Building, 500 4th Ave. in Seattle.