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School board puts bond onNov. ballot

$55 million request would fund upgrades for school buildings

In the latest move to address shortcomings of district buildings, the Estacada School Board has unanimously voted to put a $55.1 million bond on the November ballot.

The decision was made Wednesday, Aug. 10, during the School Board meeting.

The bond measure will finance immediate and long term projects to revitalize district facilities, especially Estacada’s ailing high school building.

Before approving the measure, the all-volunteer school board considered the recommendation of the Capital Projects Planning Committee, a group of district and community volunteers who assessed need for the district to finance capital costs for building needs district-wide.

“We haven’t remodeled or made our high school conducive to today’s teaching and learning environment,” said Donna Cancio, the district’s executive director for administrative services. “Our facilities need work.”

Bond funds cannot be used to pay teacher or staff salaries or for books or classroom supplies but can only be used for building construction, remodel or major repairs. The money from the bond will be used to rebuild the core structure of the high school, and fund the construction of a vocational-technical center that would expand programs for students. Funding will also be directed towards roof repairs and energy efficiency and security improvements to other district buildings.

The long road to proposing the bond measure took about two years of review and assessment of district facilities and needs. Polling in the community by Salem-based research firm, the Nelson Report, found appetite in the community for a general construction bond, at that time estimated to cost voters $30 million dollars.

In light of the positive results of the survey, the school board recruited parents and community members to a committee to draw up a list of capital projects. The projects committee then recommended that the board go beyond the initial conservative estimate, and to put a measure on the November ballot that asked for a 30 year bond at a cost to voters of $55.1 million.

To pay back the new bond, the tax rate would raise from $2.02 to $2.19 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $0.17 more than what taxpayers already pay. If the measure passes, the owner of a home with an assessed value of $250,000 would pay $547.50 a year, or an increase of $3.54 a month.

Now that the board has given its approval, Superintendent Marla Stephenson said the district steps into a different role.

“We’ve come to the end of the discussion of how much we should ask the community to support,” Stephenson said. “We move into a whole new phase for the next 90 days.”