There’s a saying among educators: Bonds are for building and levies are for learning. Both will be on the ballot in Clark County this week.
Voters in the southwest Washington county will decide Tuesday whether to approve funding packages for school districts in Vancouver, Washougal, Woodland and Ridgefield.
Ridgefield’s school district is asking voters for a $107 million bond measure. That would pay for a new elementary school, a new school for fifth and sixth graders, new playgrounds and an expansion to Ridgefield High School that would include a vocational education center.
Ridgefield needs the bond, said Superintendent Nathan McCann, because the city and its school district are growing rapidly. Ridgefield has frequently been named the fastest growing city in Washington state. The district, with 3,500 current students, expects to add close to 1,700 by 2023-24, he said.
“Ridgefield has been the state of Washington’s fastest growing city for about three of the last four years,” McCann said. “We’ve seen really significant enrollment growth, and the growth is expected to continue. We need new buildings to serve our growing district.”
Meanwhile, Vancouver, Washougal and Woodland are asking voters to approve levies that would help keep teachers, counselors and other positions staffed. Brett Blechschmidt, chief financial officer for Vancouver Public Schools, said he hoped teachers would support the schools by voting for the levy.
“We’re hopeful that the community — as it’s continued to rally behind their children, year-after-year, levy after levy — that they recognize that these services that are at stake are essential for our kids and our community,” Blechschmidt said.
About 26% of eligible voters had turned in ballots as of Monday afternoon, according to Clark County Elections.