Click photo to enlarge
San Ramon Valley school board members Denise Jennison, center, and Rachel Hurd, right, watch voting returns during the Yes on Measure D party at Bridges Golf Club on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in San Ramon, Calif. Measure D is a school bond measure that would upgrade San Ramon Valley school facilities. (Aric Crabb/Staff)

SAN RAMON VALLEY -- Whether Measure D passes or fails comes down to the mail-in and provisional ballots left to count.

The San Ramon Valley schools bond measure squeaked over its needed 55 percent of the vote threshold by just 95 ballots after all election precincts reported in Tuesday night.

Contra Costa County Clerk Steve Weir said it appears he has roughly 60,000 uncounted vote-by-mail ballots, as well as provisional ballots that need to be counted. Those votes will be counted Thursday, with totals available possibly by Friday.

"We're feeling optimistic," Measure D supporter and Golden View Elementary School librarian Bekki Livingston said. "We're happy at this point, but we're cautious. We're waiting for those votes."

Measure D opponent Mike Arata said by his observation of previous elections he expects the vote-by-mail ballots to trend toward approving the measure.

In 1995, Arata and now-deceased Ernie Scherer challenged an $82 million bond -- Measure C -- that had won by two votes. The results were overturned in a recount and then litigated for three years before the measure was defeated.

Arata said he isn't sure at this point if he and other opponents might challenge the results if the vote totals fall in favor of Measure D.

"The numbers now put us in the realm of a recount and a possible court challenge," he said.

San Ramon Valley school board President Greg Marvel said he suspects that if the vote remains close, opponents will demand a recount.


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"Assuming we withstand the challenge, the next step is to plan how we are going to do the remodels of our schools and when we are going to build the new school."

Measure D authorizes the San Ramon Valley school district to issue up to $260 million in bonds to finance 45 infrastructure and technology upgrades at San Ramon Valley district schools.

The projects include seismic upgrades; upgrades to electrical, heating and air-conditioning systems; technology infrastructure upgrades; security cameras; new classrooms; new stadium bleachers at San Ramon Valley and Monte Vista high schools; and a new $31 million elementary school in Dougherty Valley.

"We hope it passes because if it doesn't, the consequences are going to be pretty severe," Marvel said.

He said failure could mean students being diverted from crowded schools in Dougherty Valley to other schools in the district. The district might consider going to a year-round school schedule or splitting the school day to morning and evening sessions to accommodate the growth in student numbers in the district, he said.

"You can only put so many portables on school grounds," he said. "People are moving here because of our schools. What people don't understand is if we don't pass Measure D, the things we have to do are going to possibly affect home values. The demand for housing will lessen, which means home equity could possibly drop."

Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.