Highland School District bond measure failing

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- Every school district that asked voters for money across Yakima and Kittitas Counties has received it, except Highland. The district passed its levy, but its bond measure is failing - by just 15 votes. KIMA learned just how much the money was needed.

Two days of ballot results have the Highland School District bond failing. It doesn't quite have the supermajority needed.

Dennis Robison lives in Cowiche. His kids go to Highland High and he voted in favor of the bond.

"Embarrassed. It should have passed. These kids need the education."

An education hampered by aging schools in need of renovations. The $8.5 million bond would have helped every school in the district, like security and electrical improvements to the elementary school.

"It was built in the '50s and we just needed some big updates to handle the technology loads, all the computers, that kind of thing," said Marcus Whitman administrator LaDonna Nelson. "So, that was the most important for us."

Money was also earmarked for the junior and senior high schools. There's a leaky roof. An outdated HVAC system. And infrastructure to support new technologies is lacking. Highland's principal told KIMA space is so tight, some classes are sharing rooms.

Plans for a vo-tech building are also on hold. The shop teacher didn't want to go on camera but says the current shop prevents his students from getting the education they deserve.

As for what's next...

"I'm sure administrators will probably reconvene the committee that put all this together and come up with Plan B, if that's the case, and decide whether they want to run it again or not," said Nelson.

Until then, Highland schools and students will have to make do.

KIMA reached out to Highland's superintendent. He also did not want to speak on camera, but says administrators will decide what to do after all the votes are counted. Fewer than 1,000 votes were cast. And at the time of this post, only 58% were in favor. Just 15 more votes would have made the difference in getting the 60% needed.