Pasco schools battling voter apathy over bond measure

PASCO -- The push is on to pass a school bond issue in Pasco. The last two attempts have failed. And Thursday night, the district held another forum to educate voters. The only problem is: not a single person showed up.

So what can officials do to get this bond passed, despite many people who don't seem to care?

Pasco Assistant Superintendent of Operations John Morgan says it can be discouraging at times. But he vows to hold as many public meetings as necessary to make sure voters can get their questions answered.

"You really want to hope that people are listening to us, and that they're going to vote for it. But you can never take that for granted. So, yeah, it is kind of frustrating. But the fact is, we want to be available for anybody."

The district says is asking voters for a $47 million bond in February. It would build three new elementary schools and make several much-needed improvements to existing facilities.

But officials are the first to point out this isn't the same bond issue they've asked for in the past.

First and foremost, the amount property owners would pay has been lowered from $0.95 per thousand dollars in assessed value to $0.34.

The district also added big savings by making one small change.

"Having sixth graders stay for an extra year and become a K-6 school. It came from the parent/community group. And we thought it was a great idea."

That's because elementary schools are much cheaper to build than middle or high schools -- Making it a bigger bang for your buck.

So, while support for the bond may have been absent at Thursday's meeting, the district says it's not giving up. And officials plan to do whatever it takes between now and February to make sure it gets passed.

Teachers have already started sending information packets home with students, so parents can get the facts. And officials will be holding more public forums at individual schools to answer any questions voters may have about the bond.