By Lonnie Huhman,
The ballots cast around Washtenaw County on Aug. 6, saw three proposals receiving voter approval.
The Washtenaw Intermediate School District’s bond proposal passed with 15,595 votes (55.85 percent) in favor of helping with the project to renovate High Point School in Scio Township, which serves the entire county.
12,329 votes or 44 percent were cast against the proposal.
The WISD released a post-election statement expressing its thanks.
“The voters showed their support for public education when a majority of Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) constituents voted to pass a bond proposal to renovate and rebuild High Point School, which serves students with severe disabilities from across Washtenaw County, on August 6, 2019,” the WISD statement stated.
The vote means that over $53 million will be generated to ensure High Point meets the needs of students with the most significant special education needs, both now and in to the future.
In the statement, WISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel said the election is affirming of the community’s commitment to all students.
“The students throughout Washtenaw County who receive special education services at High Point School are the winners,” Menzel said. “We are grateful to our community for recognizing that our most vulnerable students deserve a high-quality learning environment just like the rest of their peers. I would like to thank the voters on behalf of our High Point community who will benefit from a school that meets their needs and enhances their quality of life and education.”
WISD spokeswoman Ashley Kryscynski said the next steps will have the WISD working to finalize plans for High Point so it can begin the bidding process and begin transition planning with hopes to move out at the end of December.
When asked what does this mean for High Point and what does High Point want county voters to know, Kryscynski said, “Our High Point students, staff and families wants to thank the voters for living into our community’s belief that all students deserve a high-quality learning environment. By re-imagining High Point School, it will be the first time that students with severe disabilities in Washtenaw County will have a school that’s specifically designed for their unique needs.”
The Chelsea District Library proposal, which was seeking a 10-year renewal of the millage that helps fund 90 percent of the operations, also passed by 1,948 votes, 65 percent to 1,011, 34 percent.
Voters in Dexter, Chelsea as well as Lima, Lyndon and Sylvan townships cast votes on the library proposal. Library officials have said the renewal will allow the library to continue its mission to “Engage, Inspire, and Equip the Chelsea community.”
The third proposal approved was the Whitmore Lake Schools proposal, which passed with 651 votes to 608. This was a Community Recreation Millage that will help fund such things as the community pool, playgrounds, athletic fields and walking paths.
Even with these important proposals, the overall turnout county-wide was low, according to Edward Golembiewski, who is the Washtenaw County Chief Deputy Clerk / Register and Director of Elections.
“Overall county-wide turnout was unfortunately low, though not unexpected given the timing of this election and the fact that most voters had only one ballot measure to decide on,” he said by email on Aug. 7. “Overall turnout was suppressed by low turnout in the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area, however was higher in the western and northern portions of the county. Lyndon Township, who typically experiences higher turnout than most areas of the county, saw the highest turnout in the county at 27.35 percent.”
He said 53 percent of ballots cast for Aug. 6 were absentee.
“This is a higher proportion than we’ve seen in the past and I think is attributable to two factors: voters no longer need a reason to obtain an absentee ballot and city and township clerks have been encouraging them to sign-up for the “permanent absentee voter list,” he said.
Voters on that list are automatically mailed an application for an absentee ballot, which they can then return if they would like to be sent a ballot.
Golembiewski said this was also the first time since the adoption of Proposal 18-3 that voters could register up to and on Election Day. He said county-wide, 31 voters registered on Election Day and 41 registered in the 14-day period prior.
“I’m pleased to see voters availing themselves of this option and expect to see higher proportions of registered voters (though Washtenaw County already has a high percentage of eligible voters that are registered) and higher turnout as we look toward 2020,” he said.