Voters were approving the Bellevue School District’s $450 million construction bond measure by a comfortable margin — almost 72 percent — in first-day returns Tuesday night.

The Lake Washington School District’s $755 million bond measure, however, was falling short of the 60 percent it needs to pass, claiming just under 57 percent of the votes in the initial count of King County’s biggest special election since 2010.

“We’re still optimistic about the bond,” said Lake Washington Superintendent Traci Pierce. “We’ll continue to watch it until the results are finalized.”

Those two districts were among 16 in King County and 11 in Snohomish County trying to pass levy and/or bond measures to operate, maintain and build schools.

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According to unofficial results released shortly after 8 p.m., most ballot measures were winning approval, although some by narrow margins.

The final votes won’t be tallied until Feb. 25.

Districts seemed to be having an easier time renewing property-tax levies that pay for day-to-day operations or technology improvements, which require only a simple majority of yes votes to pass. Bonds, which districts sometimes use for school construction, require 60 percent approval.

If voters do approve it, the Lake Washington bond measure would build six new schools and improve several others to make room for 4,000 additional students expected over the next eight years.

Bellevue’s bond measure is to replace the last six schools of a three-part construction program to add space for about 3,000 additional students.

Mercer Island and Northshore also sought bond issues for school construction, and voters were approving both in early returns, although Northshore’s was close.

In addition to the big bond measures, all of the King County school districts were seeking to renew levies for operations and/or technology, including Bellevue, Lake Washington, Issaquah, Northshore, Mercer Island, Shoreline, Federal Way and Kent. Those measures were passing.

Issaquah also is seeking voter approval for a transportation levy that would provide $1.7 million in 2015 to purchase 71 buses. Voters were approving it Tuesday.

Four districts in Snohomish County — Edmonds, Everett, Lakewood and Mukilteo — were seeking voter approval for school construction, and most districts also sought to renew levies. Bonds in Edmonds and Mukilteo were narrowly passing, but Everett and Lakewood were falling short of 60 percent.

School districts typically seek levies in either February or April special elections. If a measure on Tuesday’s ballotgoes down, the soonest a district could try again is April 22.

“Quite often they’ll come back in April and sometimes they’ll downsize the request or do a better sales job and go back to the voters,” said David Ammons, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office. “Quite a few levies do pass on the second try.”

Mercer Island, for example, rejected a $196 million bond issue in April 2012 that would have rebuilt the district’s three elementary schools and middle school, while expanding the high school.

The district tried again this time with a nearly $99 million request to build a fourth elementary school and expand the middle school and high school, according to the district.

Voters were approving that measure Tuesday with almost 74 percent of the vote.

John Higgins: 206-464-3145 or jhiggins@seattletimes.com On Twitter @jhigginsST