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Voters will see CCSD bond on May ballot

The CCSD school board voted at the November meeting to move forward with the maintenance bond

by: RAMONA MCCALLISTER/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Ochoco Elementary and Crooked River Elementary schools are under consideration for being replaced by a new school for the upcoming school maintenance bond that will come before voters in May 2013.

In October, the Crook County School District contracted with the Nelson Report out of Salem to conduct a phone survey of registered voters on their perception of the CCSD and a potential $33 million bond measure proposal.
   The most basic question on the survey was, “Would you support a $33 million bond that replaces Ochoco Elementary School and Crooked River Elementary School with a new school costing $18 million, and allocates the remaining $15 million to other district-wide renovations?”
   An overwhelming 60 percent favored the bond, with 28 percent opposed, and 12 percent who were unsure.
   The Crook County School Board voted unanimously at the last school board meeting to move forward with the CCSD facilities bond, which would come before voters in May 2013.
   At the November board meeting, the chairman of the CCSD facilities committee John Sundell made a presentation to the school board and a recommendation for the board to move forward with the bond, with the amount to be precisely defined by January. He also said the committee favored the recommendation to build a new school to replace Crooked River Elementary and Ochoco Elementary.
   He said that a political action committee needs to be organized to start on activities to market the bond.
   “We would like to see action on that sooner than later,” said Sundell.
   Out of the nine citizen members in the facilities committee, six have shown an interest in being part of the political action committee. He emphasized that the school board cannot advocate for the bond, but they can only inform voters.
   “The political action committee is entirely for advocating,” he noted.
   Sundell said that the precise amount of the bond cannot be established because of three significant open items. These include the narrowing down of dozens of maintenance projects needed in the district, the decision as to the site of a potential new school, and any changes in cost to the renovations or the cost of the potential school.
   Former CCSD board member Rich Mires said on Friday that it makes good sense to move forward on the bond measure.
   Mires made the analogy that the bond measure was not like the political undertones of the potential fiscal cliff. The facilities committee put a lot of work developing a report that took into account the safety and environmental considerations.
   “Safety and environmental-wise, we are going to have to pour millions of dollars into those buildings, and we still have old buildings,” he noted.
   Mires said that the district and the community have a duty to educate kids. He compared the business of educating kids to any sound business practices in the business community or the lack thereof.
   “If you allow your building to deteriorate, your business is going to deteriorate,” he commented. “It happens. You’re going to lose good people, and you are going to lose the opportunity to produce whatever kind of product. Our product in this kind of environment is kids.”
   Smith said that they are also working on a final site for a potential new school. The details for the bond measure will be approved in December or January, and he added that they will need to do more research on any changes in cost since the facilities committee compiled their report approximately seven months ago.
    “For the first time in 20 years, the Crook County School District has got a bond (in process),” exclaimed Smith. “We are reading and studying from those around us who have done successful bonds, to figure out how to do it. There is no operations manual for this in our district.”