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Voters pass school levies, bonds in Washington special election

The first results from Washington's special election show voters in support of funding schools through bonds and levies.

Rain, sleet, and snow didn't stop Washington's special election Tuesday. Elections officials urged voters to get their ballots in early before a winter storm buried the Puget Sound in snow

King County elections officials said voter turnout was projected at 34 percent. With about 100,000 votes being counted in early results Tuesday night. By 8 p.m., the Pierce County Auditor's office tweeted that the county had a 36 percent turnout, with 43,247 ballots processed. 

Below are early results from some of the races in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties.

Related: Full Washington special election results

King County 

Voters approved two measures for the Seattle School District that replace expiring levies. Proposition 1 approves $815 million for educational programs and operations. Proposition 2 approves $1.4 billion for capital improvements: 16 schools will get earthquake and other safety improvements, and 72 other schools receive major maintenance projects. Prop. 2 also approves funding for technology improvements throughout the school district. 

Seattle Superintendent Denise Juneau celebrated the early results in a statement Tuesday night. “I want to thank staff for developing levy measures that provide our students with educational opportunities districtwide and help bridge the gap between what the state funds for education and what our students need." 

Renton School District has two measures. Proposition 1 would approve safety and security improvements throughout the district and build a new elementary school in the Hazeen Feeder area. It was passing in early returns. voters approved Proposition 2, which is a levy of $1.50 per $1,000 assessed value for three years starting in 2020 to replace an expiring levy for educational programs and operations expenses.

Voters approved the other two, which are for fire and water. Proposition 1 approves the use of benefit charges for six more years at the Northshore Fire Department. The other levy, Prop. 2 approves a merger between King County Water District No. 45 and No. 20. 

Pierce County

Voters approved two levies and a bond in Pierce county for school safety improvements. Yelm will get a new middle school, a new elementary school, and safety and security improvements. Proposition 1 for Yelm Community Schools makes security and safety improvements like lighting and fencing at all schools. Yelm Middle School and Southworth Elementary School will both be replaced, and the portable classrooms will be removed.

Proposition 1 for the Peninsula School District approves $198,550,000 in bonds to buy land for a future school and possibly rebuild and expand Artondale Elementary and Evergreen Elementary schools. The funds will also be used to make upgrades to existing schools in the district.

Related: Bethel PTA presidents personally collect ballots after snowstorm

Funding for a new Bethel High School and two new elementary schools was back on the ballot after the measure failed in November by 307 votes. It passed with 66 percent of the vote. Proposition 1 for the Bethel School District generates $443 million by taxing property owners at $1.42 per $1,000 assessed value. It also funds renovations and expansions for other schools in the district.

Bethel schools released a statement Thursday, "We were heartbreakingly close to passing in November, and that was something that was felt throughout our community." The statement continued: "We want to thank our community for putting their trust in us to better the future of all Bethel students." 

The district said final certification will be made February 22. 

Snohomish County

The two big items in Snohomish County are for funding to replace Post Middle School in Arlington, and money for renovations at the high school to ease overcrowding. The levy would approve a tax of $1.42 per $1,000 assessed value and generate $96,215,667. This measure was narrowly passing as of Thursday.

Voters approved a second levy to dissolve Snohomish County Fire District 1. The fire district stopped providing fire and EMS service in October 2017 when the South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue Regional Authority was created. Fire District 1 will dissolve and be absorbed into South Snohomish County Fire.

Kitsap County

Like Pierce County, Kitsap has three levies for school improvements, all of which voters passed.

Proposition 1 for the Bremerton School District approves $7,675,000 to fund capital projects like school safety and security improvements. Proposition 1 for the Bainbridge Island School District approves $2.5 million in funding each year for six years starting in 2020. It will be used to finish construction at the new high and for upgrades at other schools in the district.

The third levy on the ballot is for Central Kitsap School District and would provide $18 million in funding for three years starting in 2020. The funding would replace the current levy that expires this year.

The fourth levy in the county is not for schools. It renews an existing property tax for Bainbridge Island Fire District. The tax will remain permanent. That measure also passed.