School District 509-J, Warm Springs tribes optimistic
Warm Springs sets second referendum for July 10
More than 500 Warm Springs voters stepped forward on May 14 in favor of funding a new school building on the Warm Springs Reservation.
Despite the strong show of support on a referendum vote, overall voter turnout did not meet the one-third voting population threshold requirement for a referendum to pass.
With only 147 votes against the referendum, Warm Springs leaders, with support from Jefferson County School District 509-J, have scheduled another referendum vote to take place on July 10.
"There is no question that we are passionate about building a new school for our children in Warm Springs," said Jody Calica, secretary-treasurer for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
"This is something we have been working toward with our school district partners to inspire a better sense of hope and community," he said. "We were only 369 votes short of meeting our threshold and we are confident that we can get there if we hold another vote."
On May 15, Jefferson County School District voters approved a $26.7 million school bond that will fund districtwide improvements and upgrades including $10.7 million to pay for half of a new K-8 school building in Warm Springs.
The bonds intended for the Warm Springs school will not be issued until a successful referendum with at least 1,022 votes. The district will be able to issue bonds for the school project after the passage of the referendum.
In June 2011, the Warm Springs tribes and Jefferson County School District announced a partnership to construct a K-8 building in Warm Springs. The agreement includes a five-year plan for completion of the project. Joint funding of the new building is also part of the long-term plan.
"We are very encouraged by the voter support in Warm Springs," said Rick Molitor, 509-J superintendent. "It's really just a matter of getting more voters to the table to meet the threshold requirement."
Jefferson County School District 509-J serves the communities of Madras, the Warm Springs Reservation, Metolius and Antelope with seven schools (one primary, one intermediate, two elementary, one K-8, one middle and one high school), 2,900 students, grades K-12 and 400 staff members.
The district is among the most culturally diverse in Oregon with equal populations of Native American, Hispanic, and Caucasian students.