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A fix for the schools

Board members to consider school repairs in bond
The Crook County School Board is tentatively set to discuss Monday night the potential of placing a renovation bond before voters to make much-needed school repairs.
   The meeting gets under way at 6:30 p.m. and will be held in the Crook County School District Administration offices, and is open to the public.
   According to information provided by the Citizens Facilities Review and Recommendations Committee, $12.20 million in critical priority needs are at each of the schools and other properties. These are items that need to be done within three years.
   It is as yet unclear how much critical priority and high priority items would be in a renovations bond.
   "You know we haven't done a lot of discussion of what we would go for," said Board Vice-Chairman Mark Severson. "Certainly it would include the critical and high priority (projects) would probably be looked at as well," Severson said.
   "Projects in this category are recommended for funding in an upcoming bond," according to a facilities and capacity assessment.
   It will be up to the school board to determine how much to put on the bond and what, if anything, will be cut. This is a separate and much lower bond than the $66 million bond the committee had recommended to the board, and would only be used for renovations, not new schools.
   "We have talked about going out for a bond that would go out for new school facilities," Severson said. "And this bond isn't necessarily related to that. It's related more to address the big ticket items at the school locations that we currently have."
   "I know that the report came back that we had upwards of $10 million that we had anticipated," Severson said in terms of how much the renovation bond could total. The tax rate would also need to be determined. "I think that's something that the board will have to look real hard at. We are really sensitive to the current economic conditions in the community and our intentions are not to impose further pressure in the community in the way of taxes."
   "I believe we are going to address that (a tax rate) at the April regular board meeting," he continued. "If not the April (meeting), then in May."
   Severson provided a caveat that the board will first need to hear fellow board member Riley Stock's report on education reform through a video presentation Monday evening. Severson was not sure, given that, that the board would be able to continue discussions on the renovation bond.
   "I mean - we could but I'm not certain we'll get there," Severson cautioned.
   The vice-chairman also addressed the need for a repairs bond.
   "I feel that there may be a need for a renovation bond to help out with some of the maintenance issues at the schools that have occurred over time," Severson said. "Our maintenance staff does a very good job, but there are big ticket items over time that require attention."
   At an earlier meeting, the board agreed to defer putting a $66 million school replacement bond before voters for various reasons. One was that the economy is either in a recession or close to it, and another was that residents in a second survey did not seem that supportive of the amount of money. Additionally, board members also believed that there are far too many measures and candidates facing the voters this fall and that therefore a school bond measure would simply muddy the waters.
   Critical priority items consist of: $1.83 million in repairs at Cecil Sly Elementary; $2.03 million at Crooked River Elementary; $1.36 million worth of renovations at Ochoco Elementary; $802,377 at Powell Butte Elementary; $453,793 at Paulina Elementary; and $1.13 million at Crook County High School.
   By far, most of the critical priority items are at Crook County Middle School, totaling $4.24 million.
   Other potential bond elements are: $50,245 at Pioneer Alternative High School; $31,368 at the Crooked River Annex; $26,010 at the maintenance building; $111,861 at the former district office, which sits by Cecil Sly; and $123,675 in repairs at the transportation/food warehouse.
   Critical repairs consist of: site improvements, building exterior work, fire and life safety, the buildings' interiors, Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) upgrades, seismic and structural repairs, heating, ventilation and cooling, electrical and plumbing.
   High priority needs were also delineated in the report, totaling $4.01 million at each of the schools and that are recommended to be done within three to five years.
   The board still must determine when it would go to voters for a renovation bond.
   "Boy, I think the earliest we could go would be November," Severson said. "I honestly don't know if it could be then either."
   He added that when the repair bond is placed before voters will also need to be determined, and that this might occur in April or May.