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East Valley school bond is failing

Wed., Feb. 4, 2009, 4:01 p.m.

The third time was not the charm for the East Valley School District. The district’s most recent construction bond measure appears headed toward failure again, leaving the district struggling with how to renovate and repair schools that are starting to crumble.

The bond, which failed twice in 2008, was slightly revamped and asked voters for $34.5 million to renovate the district’s two middle schools and complete roof and HVAC repairs at the elementary schools. The measure got 50.6 percent approval on Tuesday, but a bond requires a 60 percent supermajority to pass. Previous attempts got about 55 percent approval.

The district isn’t sure what it will do next, said superintendent John Glenewinkel. “We don’t have an answer yet,” he said. “We will pull together the main players as soon as we possibly can and have a discussion.”

Glenewinkel said he was caught off guard by the results of the vote after a poll the district had done in November indicated 80 percent approval of the new version of the bond. “I was extremely surprised,” he said. “Based upon that poll, it’s hard not to be disappointed. We have to put an issue before our voters they feel they can support. Obviously this was not the right issue right now.”

Glenewinkel is gratified that the district’s replacement maintenance and operations levy is passing with 56 percent approval. Levy money provides 19 percent of the district’s annual budget. “That’s a relief on a number of fronts,” he said. “It shows that people know that the money is essential to operate programs at the level they’ve come to expect.”

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