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Schools make case for bond in a crowd

$195 million measure will add more room for students

Although it's been five months since the Beaverton School District asked voters to approve a $195 million bond measure, district leaders say the need hasn't changed and construction costs have increased in the meantime.

Ballots for the Nov. 7 measure should be mailed by Oct. 20.

Like the May election, the district is still seeking money to build two elementary schools, renovate or add classrooms at many district schools and find space to house students attending two high school options programs.

The district's May bond measured failed because not more than 50 percent of voters cast ballots.

Only 42 percent of registered voters mailed in ballots. Still, of those who voted, almost 61 percent were in favor of the measure, according to district officials.

Last month, the Beaverton School Board revisited whether the bond amount needed to be modified in lieu of skyrocketing construction costs of between 17 percent to 30 percent for labor and materials. Also, the board examined the effects related to underestimation of project costs and higher costs related to more stringent building codes.

However, they voted not to raise the overall amount of the measure, which would cost 51 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Board Chairwoman Priscilla Turner said the bond would still provide crucial space for students with almost 140 classrooms added to schools throughout the district.

'We feel we picked the projects that are most important,' Turner said of the bond measure.

Although the board had discussed whether to defer some added classroom space because of cost increases, they agreed that such schools Kinnaman, Beaver Acres, Barnes, McKinley and Hiteon elementary schools would received the added classrooms promised to them.

'Those schools have been hurting for a long time,' said Turner.

Importance of schools

If passed, the bond would pay for the:

-- Construction of two elementary schools on land already owned by the school district. That includes land on McDaniels Road and 119th Place in Cedar Mill where a kindergarten through fifth-grade school would be built. Later, a kindergarten through eighth grade school would be built off of Springville Road, near Portland Community College's Rock Creek campus.

'That could house up to 900 but what we're doing now is building for 600,' Turner said of the latter site.

-- Addition of 139 classrooms to schools throughout the district. That includes four new classrooms to Southridge High and 12 for Sunset High.

-- The purchase of between 35 to 40 acres of land in the Southwest portion of the district to build a future high school. No funding is included in the current bond for construction of the high school, officials say.

-- Construction of a new performance/instruction space at Arts and Communication Magnet Academy.

n Purchase or leasing of commercial space in the Beaverton area for a science options high school and a medical magnet high school.

Meanwhile, a massive bond advocacy campaign is under way with telephone calls, neighborhood canvassing and flyers expected to be mailed to the 120,000 voters in the Beaverton School District.

'We did reach everybody in the last campaign too,' said Janet Hogue, a volunteer for Citizens for School Support, the bond advocacy group and former head of the Beaverton Education Foundation. 'The community really, really values its public schools.'

Meanwhile, Turner said she's hopeful regarding chances of passing the bond.

'I'm optimistic because I think our community understands the importance of schools,' she said.