>Board members fear economic conditions may lead to failure of bond request
For now, a school district renovation bond may be delayed beyond this year because of what school board members believe are worsening economic times.
   Crook County School Board members discussed the renovation bond, which would be used for such repairs as school roofing and other critical needs, Monday evening, April 14.
   "The economy hasn't changed," said Board Chairman Jeff Landaker.
   Vice-Chairman Mark Severson said the board is trying to be more sensitive to raising people's taxes in light of the economic times.
   Severson also pointed to an upcoming bond measure that will be in the Redmond School District.
   "I was kind of hoping we could see the Redmond vote and see what happens there," Severson said, adding that there are definitely tremendous repairs that need to be made throughout the Crook County School District.
   "I guess I'm going to be outvoted on this, but I believe we need to do this for the safety of children," said fellow board member Sandy DeMaris.
   Board member Riley Stock said, "if there would be potential damage to the property if we did not undertake certain renovations, then those are the ones that would warrant going to the voters for, in the more difficult economic times that we may be facing today."
   "Or if by not doing a renovation, it would allow a hazard of some nature (that) could be injurious to a child attending school," Stock said in a phone interview after the meeting.
   John Sundell, who served as the chairman of the Citizens Facilities Review and Recommendation Committee, said between $10 and $15 million will be needed for the Crook County repairs. An original $66 million bond included that money.
   "So we're talking $56 million for new schools," Sundell said. "You're not going to do this all at once, so you've got to take the plunge."
   Sundell said if Redmond voters pass their $110 million bond and "because they have the same recession concerns we do", but the Crook County School District bond is only for $10 or $15 million, "then subjectively that tells me that now is as good a time as any to raise the renovation bond, especially given continuing construction inflation."
   Earlier this year, the school board agreed not to place a $66 million bond before voters this year because of the economy.
   "If Redmond is positive (in the vote), that's a definite plus for us," Sundell emphasized, adding that he thought the board should leave this open on going for a renovation bond this year.
   In the case of Redmond voters, they will be asked to consider bond measure 9-56 on May 20. The total $110 million bond would build a new, 1,400-seat high school ($80 million), a 600-seat school that replaces the aging Evergreen Elementary ($20 million) and $10 million in needed repairs. The decision to refer a bond to Redmond voters was made after a study was conducted by a 35-member Facilities Task Force. According to information from the Redmond School District, estimates have indicated that taxpayers would pay $1.55 per $1,000 of assessed value. But with retiring the 1992-1993 bond in 2009, the net cost is cut to $1.03 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. This equates to about $150 annually or $12.50 per month.
   "Now is as good a time as any," Sundell added. He said that based on two telephone surveys, "the most positive response to all of the questions was do you support maintaining the existing investment in facilities through necessary repairs."
   "The response to that question was more positive to that than to any of the new construction questions," Sundell said after the meeting.
   "But again, I think biting the bullet this year is as good as biting the bullet next year," the committee chairman continued.
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