Dieringer School District future is given green light by voters

By Teresa Herriman, The Courier-Herald

  • Thursday, April 30, 2009 6:53pm
  • News

By Teresa Herriman, The Courier-Herald

The Dieringer School District's bond and levy both passed by wide margins in last week's special election. As of Thursday, both propositions had garnered more than 70 percent "yes" votes, surpassing the super-majority requirement of a 60 percent support. Official results from the Feb. 3 vote will be available from the Pierce County Auditor after the absentee ballots are counted Friday.

The $4.9 million bond will pay the Dieringer district's portion of a new high school to be built by the Auburn School District. About 1,400 students attend kindergarten through eighth grade in the Dieringer School District. However, since Dieringer doesn't have a high school, most students shift to Auburn-Riverside High. When Auburn voters approved a $54 million bond measure to build a fourth high school, the state required Dieringer to pass a measure to help cover its share of the costs.

The district had two chances to pass the measure. If the issue had failed last week, and again on a second try, the 113-year-old Dieringer School District would have been dissolved and all of its students would have been reassigned to nearby districts.

"This community - one more time, as it always does - supported its kids," Superintendent Judy Neumeier-Martinson said. "In some ways, it's not at all surprising."

What did surprise Neumeier-Martinson was the large turnout. She noted that more people participated in Tuesday's election than voted in November. "When those high numbers come in, that's amazing. We are just so thrilled," she said.

In a special board meeting planned for Monday, the final decisions about the bond were to be made so the district can offer the bonds for sale. The district will then begin the process of transferring the money to the Auburn School District.

The new 1,500-student high school is scheduled to open in September 2005. While few of Dieringer's students will attend that school when completed, it will relieve overcrowding at Auburn-Riverside, Neumeier-Martinson explained.

By approving the levy voters agreed to extend the current tax for two more years. "This allows us to maintain the same level of support for 2005 and 2006," Neumeier-Martinson said. "This allows us to go on to do the things we need to do to educate the kids and build the new elementary school." Plans for a new 54,000-square-foot replacement for Lake Tapps Elementary School are in the design phase.

Teresa Herriman can be reached at therriman@courierherald.com

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