School district voters say yes to $20 million bond measure

Improvements to schools will start to be made soon

Voters approved a $20 million bond measure that will help replace roofs and make other improvements in Tigard-Tualatin schools.

With 100 percent of the votes counted by 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, May 10, the Tigard-Tualatin School District will have funds to pay for new roofs at Tualatin High School and Hazelbrook Middle School.

The bond also will repair or resurface many school tracks and update the handicapped accessibility at all 15 Tigard-Tualatin schools.

The bond passed with 55 percent of the vote.

Without the bond, district leaders said that to make repairs, they would need to dip into the general fund, which is already strained and only expected to get worse in the coming years.

The district had been looking at making about $7.5 million in cuts next year and cutting about 60 staff positions.

District Superintendent Rob Saxton told the School Board earlier this year that the district was 'in danger of stagnating' if it can't find ways to innovate during the tough financial times.

The bond will also help purchase new science textbooks; the district had been using textbooks that were more than a decade old and no longer meet new state standards.

New technology upgrades are also coming, thanks to the bond.

Saxton has said that the technology upgrades could be as simple as new computers in the schools' technology labs but could go farther.

'It could also put technology in the hands of students with iPads or laptops,' Saxton told The Times in February. 'We'll need to make some decisions about that.'

The bond will have a six-year payback and could tax up to 36 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation of district patrons' residences. The owner of a $200,000 home would pay about $72 a year.

'At a time when the economy is not good, asking our voters to pay more taxes doesn't seem that logical,' School Board Chairwoman Jill Zurschmeide said in March. "This strikes me as very logical."

The first $10 million of the bond will be borrowed through interest-free bonds available through federal stimulus dollars.

A district poll in January showed that about 57 percent of residents said that they would favor a $25 million bond, with 34 percent opposed and 9 percent undecided.