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509-J School District officials ecstatic over bond passage

The district will get a $15.8 million boost after the measure passes by a narrow margin
School District 509-J officials were exuberant over the Nov. 6 passage of a $15.8 million bond measure to revamp Madras High School and convert Buff Annex back into an elementary.
   "We're delighted, it's terrific. Especially in times like this," said Supt. Phil Riley, noting, "With Oregon at least on the edge of a recession, tax statements just coming out, and the Sept. 11 disaster, there were a lot of reasons for people to be pessimistic."
   But instead, unofficial Jefferson County tally was 1,464 yes and 1,331 no votes, which was more than the double majority needed to pass the bond measure.
   "This says a lot about the residents of Jefferson County and a lot about the community," Riley said.
   In a breakdown by precinct, the count was:
   Haystack 11 yes, 23 no; Ashwood 0 yes, 4 no; Kutcher 99 yes, 108 no; Lyle Gap 27 yes, 45 no; Metolius 64 yes, 81 no; East Madras 253 yes, 242 no; Warm Springs, 136 yes, 22 no; Round Butte 84 yes, 156 no; West Madras 191 yes, 182 no; Circle M 133 yes, 95 no; Central 293 yes, 191 no; and Sunset 173 yes, 182 no.
   In the section of the Warm Springs Reservation that is in Wasco County the vote was 43 yes, 29 no.
   County Clerk Kathy Marston said the vote would not be official until her office received votes that may have been picked up in other counties, which could take up to two weeks. The final outcome of the vote would not be changed, however, she indicated.
   Madras High, which was built in 1965, will be constructing new science and vocational classrooms, creating a student commons area, and expanding athletic facilities.
   On a video shown in the community to promote the bond measure, chemistry and physics teacher Nick Kezele noted the current science classrooms were built in the era of "Sputnik" technology.
   Following the passage of the bond measure Kezele expressed his feelings. "We to a tee in the science department are excited that we'll be teaching in a facility that will be 21st Century equipped. The kids are definitely going to benefit. It's a dream come true," Kezele said.
   Supt. Riley said there wasn't a set timeline yet for construction, but 509-J preliminary plans call for opening the refurbished high school in the fall of 2004.
   Once the remodeled high school opens, the MHS classes being held in the Buff Annex can be moved over. Only then can remodeling work begin on Buff Annex to turn it back into an elementary school.
   The next immediate step, Riley said, is to have the district's architects meet with a committee of teachers and principals to go over the particulars of what they would like to see happen during the remodeling.
   Riley said this step in expanding facilities to prepare for increased enrollment will have an positive effect on the chamber, on businesses and everything else in the community.
   Riley said the favorable vote indicated, "People here believe in their community and want good schools, and believe growth is coming."