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School board holds line on bond for projects

Plans for some school work will be altered to cover increased costs

Despite increased construction costs, Beaverton voters won't be asked to fund higher costs.

On Tuesday, the Beaverton School Board reaffirmed plans to go ahead with a $195 million bond request for a Nov. 7 bond measure.

In addition, they agreed to use interest earnings to fund an additional $6 million needed to increase capacity at four elementary schools. Those schools include Barnes, Beaver Acres, McKinley and Hiteon elementary schools.

The recommendations came after a more than two-hour meeting where the board discussed items that could be removed or deferred from the bond to make up for an estimated $43 million increase in original bond costs to build new classrooms, buy land for future schools and make school improvements.

During public testimony, there were impassioned pleas to stay with commitments to build new classrooms at Beaver Acres and the other schools.

Marcella Semet, a classified staff member at Beaver Acres Elementary School, asked that classrooms originally promised remain intact. She said the district needed a school where 30 percent of students weren't in portable classrooms.

'Defer what can be deferred and fund our neediness issues,' said Semet.

Other board members, including Craig Irwin, were supportive of adding needed space.

'I feel strongly we need to make a commitment tonight to those four elementary schools,' said Irwin.

Meanwhile, Mike Leopold, a former school board member, said the district should go for enough money to meet the needs of the district.

'The history is our community has supported every (school) bond, sans one,' said Leopold. 'We can pass a bond for $220 million as much as we can for $195 million.'

Community member John Vhay told the board he thought it was a mistake to try to 'buy' votes by promising new projects at every school in the district.

Vhay believes the community would approve the bond even with the scaled-back projects 'but I don't think you should give every single school in the district a piece of the action.'

Board member Jeffrey Hicks agreed, saying the most pressing issues should be addressed first.

'It's not important to me that every school gets something,' said Hicks.

Although the staff had recommended deferring some classrooms at Barnes, Beaver Acres and Hiteon elementary schools (no recommendations were made to defer classrooms at McKinley) the bond interest earnings will allow construction of the added space if the bond passes.

That includes 10 classrooms at Barnes, 14 at Beaver Acres, eight at Hiteon and eight at McKinley.

Meanwhile, the board agreed to use general fund money to purchase needed instructional items.