More ballots, same result

School initiative wins with 51.3 percent of the vote

Posted: Sunday, May 30, 2004

The count of questioned and absentee ballots Friday afternoon didn't change the results of the special election, in which voters passed an initiative to block construction of the Dimond Park high school.

The new totals are 4,391 yes votes and 4,156 no votes. The 8,551 ballots cast represent a 36.61 percent turnout of registered voters. The margin of victory was 51.3 percent to 49.7 percent.

The turnout is much higher than the 5,647 votes cast in the June 2003 special election for school bonds, and is not much less than the 9,633 votes cast in the October 2004 general election, which included a mayoral race.

Election officials counted 719 questioned ballots on Friday. Most questioned ballots represented people who voted outside of their precinct. There were 330 yes votes and 389 no votes. Officials also counted 543 absentee ballots received from May 22 to May 28. There were 321 yes votes and 221 no votes. On Tuesday, the Canvass Board will review precinct reports. It will recount votes within a precinct if there is a discrepancy between the number of people who signed up to vote and the number of ballots apparently cast. The board is expected to certify the election by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The Juneau Assembly and Juneau School Board are scheduled to meet at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Assembly chambers to discuss what the next steps should be.

The city faces a Dec. 31 deadline from the state Department of Education if the city wants reimbursement for 60 percent or 70 percent of a school project's bonded cost.

The city has sold but not used $18.15 million in bonds for the Dimond Park high school. Those bonds can be applied to other school projects. But City Attorney John Hartle has said any new use of the bonds should be approved by voters.

City and school officials also must consider whether they want to place new bonds for the schools on the ballot this fall. The Juneau School Board and proponents of the Dimond Park high school have said Juneau-Douglas High School is overcrowded.

The school district has used the Marie Drake building, next to JDHS, as an annex to the high school. The Marie Drake building is in need of renovation.

District officials expected that the building would be available for other purposes once a new high school was built. Officials have cited overcrowding in the middle schools; the desire to move administrative offices from the Harborview Elementary basement, freeing up space there for expanding elementary programs; and the desire to find space to house alternative programs.

Also, the district has come up with a list of about $28 million worth of deferred major maintenance projects, mostly in the elementary schools. Proposed work includes new exterior siding and paint, and new windows, doors, floor coverings and light fixtures.

• Eric Fry can be reached at eric.fry@juneauempire.com.



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