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OLYMPIA — The Yelm Community Schools bond issue to improve safety and replace schools was passingafter the first count of ballots in Tuesday’s special election.

A Tanglewilde Parks District property tax levy was also passing after the first count.

The first count of ballots was received by 8 p.m. Tuesday at Thurston County Auditor’s Office, showing  the bond issue was passing by 3,141 votes, or 64.36 percent.

The school bond issue must pass by a 60 percent supermajority under state law.

Of 17,988 registered voters, 5,199 cast ballots for a 28.9 percent voter turnout. The next count of votes at the Thurston County Auditor’s Office is at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Approval of the bond measure would provide funds for Yelm Community Schools to improve safety and alleviate overcrowding.

Since the last bond issue in 2003, the district has grown by more than 1,300 students.

The district is projected to grow by an additional 411 students over the next five years.

Replacing Yelm Middle School to serve 720 students, and Southworth Elementary to serve 550 students with two-story construction will address the anticipated growth, class size requirements, school officials said. It would eliminate portable classrooms that are 20-40 years old and costly to maintain, officials said.

The remaining seven campuses will receive safety and security improvements based on the needs of each campus.

Because of local levy rates being reduced by an estimated $2.19 per $1,000 assessed valuation in 2019, the overall property tax rate is estimated to decline.

The two replacement schools also qualify for $23.4 million in state aid.

Also on Thurston County’s Tuesday special election ballot was a property tax levy for Tanglewilde Parks and Recreation District, which was passing by 169 votes, or 53.31 percent in favor, to 148 votes against, or 46.69 percent.

The Tanglewilde Parks and Recreation District proposes a six-year levy for the maintenance and operation of the two parks and an outdoor pool facility in the Tanglewilde community.

Proposed is a property tax increase of 60 cents per $1,000, which amounts to $120 a year for a home valued at $200,000.

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