Seattle's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and More | Seattle, Washington | KING5.com

Failed Pierce County school bond revives supermajority debate

A school bond measure in the Bethel School District failed this past election, which means schools won't get money for new construction. The funding is badly needed as Bethel High School is overflowing with students.

Year-round school, Saturday classes, or night school.

“There are a whole variety of undesirable options,” Bethel School District Superintendent Tom Seigel said after the latest apparent defeat of district bond measure.

Seigel said school district boundaries will likely be changed to handle a growing student population.

“We are running out of space,” said Seigel. “There is an easier solution, build new schools.”

According to Pierce County election results released Friday afternoon, 59.19 percent of voters backed a school construction bond for Bethel schools. However, state law requires bond measures to have 60 percent to pass.

“This is a law that needs to change,” said Seigel.

Also see | Bethel School District wants boundary changes to combat overcrowding

Six school districts in Washington received more than 50 percent of the vote but failed to reach the necessary 60 percent for the measure to pass.

Senator Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, said he would propose a bill in the next legislative session to lower the threshold to 55 percent. State Superintendent Chris Reykdal is backing legislation to amend the state’s constitution to require a simple majority to pass school bonds.

“Additional school districts will pass bonds at 55 percent,” said Reykdal. “But unfortunately there remains those who get over 50 percent, but less than 55 percent, who cannot proceed despite the will of a majority of their voters.”

Changing the requirement by any amount would mean amending the state’s constitution. An amendment needs a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate and voter approval.