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Lynden School District mulls options after likely bond failure 

Bond would have funded construction of a new high school, other district upgrades

Lynden School Board member Jim Verburg discusses the district's failed bond with fellow board members in a Tuesday, Feb. 20 meeting. The board voted against re-running the bond in April, and the district will instead try to engage with the community to get more support. (Charlotte Alden/Cascadia Daily News)
By Charlotte Alden General Assignment/Enterprise Reporter

Lynden School District is regrouping after a plea to voters to fund construction of a new high school and other upgrades failed to garner enough support from residents in February’s special election.

At a Tuesday, Feb. 20 meeting, the Lynden School Board opted against re-running the bond on the April ballot. The district will instead spend time engaging with people who voted no and those who didn’t vote at all, and decide whether to re-run the bond in August, November or February 2025, Superintendent David VanderYacht said.

Results of the most recent ballot drop show only 50.98% of voters are currently in favor of the bond, nearly 10 percentage points short of the needed supermajority of 60%. Election results won’t be certified until Thursday, Feb. 22, but it’s unlikely that the few ballots left to count will make up the difference. The resolution put to voters asked them to approve $157.5 million in bonds to fund construction of the new high school and upgrades to other schools in the district. 

“This decision [to not re-run the bond in April] was not a vote of no support for the project,” VanderYacht said in a message to the community after the meeting. “There was, in fact, a reinforced conclusion that the question is not ‘if,’ but rather ‘when.’”   

VanderYacht told CDN that the school board’s decision on Tuesday was a “recommitment” to engaging in a collaborative process to provide “safe and quality learning environments for today’s students and the students in the future.” 

Needs for new and updated facilities won’t lessen despite the likely bond failure, VanderYacht said. Costs will also continue to go up. He said at the meeting they anticipate a 7.5% increase in costs if they wait until 2025 to put the bond on the ballot.

Gallery: Inside Lynden’s outdated 43-year-old high school

Reaching those who didn’t vote should be a priority, some school board members said at the meeting.

Across the county, voter turnout was low in the special election. Only 38.26% of people had returned a ballot, as of Feb. 16 results. Election data show that voting among residents who likely have school-aged children was low. Countywide, 32.4% of people aged 35-44 voted, and 38.2% of voters aged 45-54 voted, according to ballot return statistics from the Washington Secretary of State Elections Division.

“The turnout was extremely low,” school board member Ken Owsley said at the Tuesday morning meeting. “So, I don’t think we can say we’ve heard from everybody.” 

 A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Lynden fell 10% short of votes needed to pass the bond. The district was 10 percentage points short. The story was updated to reflect this change on Feb. 29, 2024. at 9:45 a.m. Cascadia Daily News regrets this error.

Charlotte Alden is CDN’s general assignment/enterprise reporter; reach her at; 360-922-3090 ext. 123.

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