WILMINGTON- Voters in Wilmington offered a nearly split decision on a plan to further consolidate their education system with Whitingham, while Whitingham voters overwhelmingly approved the measure.
In Wilmington, 405 people turned out to the polls, with 208 voting in favor of Article one, to approve further consolidation with Whitingham. But 194 voted against the consolidation proposal – a difference of only 14 votes or, as some count it, a separation of only seven votes. Three ballots were declared to be “spoiled.”
It was a different story in Whitingham, where voters approved the measure 161 to 59 – significantly higher than a two-thirds majority.
But the most astonishing numbers may have been under Article II, which asked voters to indicate a preference between Option A (joint elementary school at DVES and a joint high school in Whitingham) or Option B (joint elementary school in Whitingham, and a joint high school at the current TVHS in Wilmington).
By almost two to one, Whitingham residents said they’d support Option A, with 134 voting for Option A, as opposed to 68 people who voted in favor of Option B.
Board members said Option A would make the best use of existing facilities, and would result in a better school for the future. But because Whitingham would not be eligible to apply their $2 million credit negotiated under the original Twin Valley joint contract, Option A would cost Whitingham taxpayers substantially more than Option B. In fact, tax rate projections provided before the vote indicated that Whitingham’s tax rate would rise by about 6.6 cents under Option A, while Wilmington would see a decrease of about 1.5 cents. Despite the tax impact, a decisive majority of Whitingham voters said they’d back the option that would make the best use of facilities.
In Wilmington, however, the results were less conclusive. With 129 voters in favor of Option A, it was the nominal winner. But Option B didn’t come in second – 128 Wilmington voters marked “no” to both options, while 107 voted in favor of Option B. One person voted “yes” to Option A and Option B, and 28 people opted not to vote on Article II at all.
A Twin Valley School Board meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening has been cancelled.