The Marshall school bond issue made its best showing yet, favored by a slim majority of district voters Tuesday, Nov. 3, but it failed to reach the 4/7 majority required to pass.
Slater's bond issue passed by a wide margin.
The unofficial election results in Marshall were 1,296 "yes" votes and 1,245 "no" votes.
The three recent bond issues -- in 2000, 2001 and 2003 -- failed to reach the 50 percent threshold. The result Tuesday also reverses a negative trend.
In 2000, the issue got 47.7 percent "yes" votes, in 2001 it got 46.6 percent and in 2003, it got 41.2 percent.
Another positive trend from the district's standpoint: The issue prevailed in three of Marshall's four wards. It was edged out by one vote among absentee voters, 47 to 48, but lost by large margins in Ward 4 and Blackwater.
The $20.3 million bond would have allowed the district to build a new school to house grades three through five, reduce or eliminate the use of temporarily trailer classrooms and retire one of the district's oldest school buildings.
Getting a simple majority was small comfort to the school board and bond campaign members who gathered to monitor poll results Tuesday night.
Marshall Superintendent Craig Noah, who wrote his dissertation on school bond issues, couldn't name a flaw in the campaign.
"They did everything right," he said. "It was a great campaign. The information was there." He said the situation reminded him of how things can go in sports, where great efforts don't always prevail.
Several bond campaign volunteers urged the school board to put the issue on the ballot in April 2010. Board members in the past have said they intend to keep asking voters to approve funding for new schools until they get the nod.
"We're not going to give up. We'll do it again," pledged school board President Larry Godsey. "The need hasn't gone away."
Wayne Crawford, co-chairman with John Angelhow of the bond campaign committee, said the process of educating the public should continue.
He declined to say whether he would continue leading the effort, saying that decision would be up to the school board. But he said he still believes in the cause.
"I really believe the community has faith in the current board and administration. And we know we have great faculty and staff," he said. "We have to convince the public that this is a serious, critical need."
Godsey said one aspect of the district's situation may not have been emphasized enough.
The money available for facility improvements has been low for several years, which means money for big-ticket items like repairing heating and air conditioning systems has to come out of the district's operating budget.
"That's money that should go for teacher salaries and books," he said.
Although the district has been trying for 10 years to get voter approval for new schools, officials had been hopeful the timing would prove beneficial this time because borrowing money has never been cheaper for school districts.
In addition to low interest rates, the federal government's stimulus program has made available money to dramatically reduce interest costs. Marshall officials had expected to get about $6 million in federal assistance.
The district will have one more crack at the federal interest aid. If the board places the issue on the ballot in April, and it passes, the district could still reap some benefit from the stimulus program.
The Slater bond issue was approved by a 167-56 margin, according to unofficial results.
Slater school district intends to build a new kindergarten/pre-kindergarten building, but will use revenue from its existing debt service levy to pay back the bonds.
Marshall does not have a debt service levy, so the issue would have established one, hiking property taxes by as much as 80 cents per $100 assessed valuation.