A member of the Summerville High School Foundation has requested a recount of ballots for the district’s $8 million bond measure, which lost by only two votes after a count of provisional ballots last week.
Barbra Kerr, who serves on the board of the nonprofit foundation, visited the Election Office Tuesday to ask for the recount of Measure H votes. She will fund it herself, covering the cost of county staff members who will process the ballots.
Public agencies such as Summerville Union High School District are not permitted to request recounts themselves, according to Tuolumne County Clerk and Auditor-Recorder Debi Russell Bautista.
“I’m doing it personally on behalf of the school, because of all the improvements the school needs,” Kerr said. “I care about what the foundation does for the school, and I care about the improvement and quality of the education.”
Kerr is a “transplant” from San Diego and works as an electrical contractor. She lives in Twain Harte. None of her children are Summerville High graduates, but she has nevertheless become a school supporter.
Russell Bautista plans to start the Measure H recount at 9 a.m Tuesday, Dec. 11. Staff members will need to retrieve about 4,700 ballots, sort them according to type, and split them into sets for easier counting.
Kerr can call the recount off at the end of any given day if the results don’t appear to change, Russell Bautista said. Her office must have payment in hand before proceeding with a day of recounting. As of Tuesday, she hadn’t calculated the daily cost for the recount, but gave a “ballpark” estimate of $750.
The last Tuolumne County recount took place in 2008, when Board of Supervisors District 1 candidate Randy Selesia paid for a recount of ballots in his race against Liz Bass. The recount had been Tuolumne County’s first in about 50 years. It affirmed Bass’s victory, Russell Bautista said.
She said it’s possible a recount of Measure H votes could yield different results, since the bond measure came in only two votes short of the 55 percent supermajority required for passage.
Nov. 30’s final count showed 54.98 percent of Summerville Union High School District voters approved of Measure H and 45.02 percent voted no.
Summerville Union High School District Superintendent John Keiter, who hasn’t conceded defeat for Measure H at any point in the ballot-counting process, said he still hoped the outcome would be favorable.
“It’s not that many ballots that are in question,” Keiter said. “We’re going to follow the process and work with Debi and hope that we get a better result.”
Kerr shared the same sentiment.
“The fact that we’re only short two votes, it’s worth investing in a recount,” she said.
Measure H would extend Measure Q, Summerville High’s $9.9 million bond measure passed in 1998. Another proposed extension of Measure Q failed by a narrow margin in 2010, but not as narrowly as Measure H.
Keiter has said many of Summerville High’s classrooms, including its overcrowded art classroom, need modernization. Its sports field needs safety improvements, and some district technology is outdated.
Additionally, Summerville High parking lots, sidewalks, restrooms and other facilities need upgrades to make them accessible to students with disabilities, Keiter said.
Measure H has been the subject of debate among Summerville High’s own staff in recent months, with some arguing that “promises” made for Measure Q money never came to fruition.
Others said the new bond measure was the only way to fund badly needed improvements that would benefit students.
The Summerville High School Foundation pulled for Measure H’s passage, conducting outreach efforts and calling supporters who had not yet voted on Nov. 6.
Also in this year’s election, Sonora Union High School District passed a $23 million bond measure by a margin of 56.49 percent. It had about 240 votes to spare.