Voters have rejected a $21.5 million school bond to renovate Whitefish High School.
When all the votes were tallied on Thursday, 2,551 were opposed to the bond and 1,796 were for it. Superintendent Jerry House said he was disappointed with the decision and now must look for other ways to address the school’s needs.
“Honestly, we did not expect such a huge difference like that,” House said of the vote discrepancy. “At the same time, it’s a democratic vote and the idea as a school superintendent is that you honor that vote.”
The 4,347 voters who mailed in their ballots represent half of all Whitefish registered voters.
The proposed project called for 78,105 square feet of renovation on existing space and 85,743 square feet of new construction. Proponents of the bond have long argued that the current facility is inadequate and even unsafe for students and teachers. Plans called for new classrooms, a new food court and commons area, improved lab facilities, new electrical systems and a variety of other features.
House said he understands it’s a difficult time for taxpayers right now to commit to a large project like this. He mentioned the struggling economy, the city’s current planning jurisdiction controversy and gas prices as all having an influence on how people choose to spend their money.
But the school’s needs persist, he said, and he will look for ways solve them in the future.
“How do I bring those folks back together so we can sit down and say, ‘Okay, what do we need to do to make this work?’” House said.
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