Shock and awe. Those words describe a reasonable reaction to Tuesday’s Wenatchee School District bond election. The bonds have received nearly 69 percent approval as of Friday’s count. No comparable result springs to mind. No one remembers anything like it, an epic landslide. There are candidates running unopposed who don’t get 69 percent of the vote. There have been school bonds close to that result, in reverse. To get 69 percent approval for any kind of public debt is unusual. To get it for a $66.5 million debt that requires a substantial tax increase is just, well, just amazing.
It defies explanation, especially in a school district like Wenatchee, where voters have a history of approving bonds begrudgingly, if at all. We think the difference may be a district, a school board and a covey of volunteers who made a sustained and concerted effort to involve the public, to tap into community sentiment and stay there, connected, for years if need be. The result was a plan, and a list of projects that were both needed and wanted, that had strong and measurable public support, and that translated into votes. At the same time the district was expanding public involvement in all phases of education. The bond result was likely helped along by a concerted effort to engage the public in thinking about the future through Wenatchee Learns.