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School board moves ahead with $55M bond proposal

Voters within the boundary of the Estacada School District will decide in November whether or not to approve a $55.1 million bond measure.

The Estacada School Board on Wednesday, June 22, unanimously approved the Capital Projects Committee’s proposal to direct the district to construct language for a ballot measure for the Nov. 8 general election.

The bond would allow the district to address deferred maintenance at all school buildings and the bus barn, including roof repairs and security upgrades, and provide funds for major renovations at Estacada High School.

“The high school (building) is very tired,” said Donna Cancio, executive director of administrative services, in a previous interview. “It would be wonderful to have a state-of-the-art high school, with spaces that kids learn best in, and excel and reach their dreams.”

The district’s current bond measure, which was used to build Clackamas River Elementary School and pay for significant work at Estacada Junior High School, was passed in 1999 and will be paid off in 2025.

The new bond would be paid back over 30 years and raise the current tax rate from $2.02 to $2.19 per $1,000 of assessed property value. 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 $42.50 a year over what they are already paying.

Earlier this year, the district contracted with the Salem-based Nelson Group consulting company and polled 366 voters to test public support for a bond. They found most voters would support a $30 million bond measure, which would not have increased the current property tax rate.

A $30 million bond would have provided funds for basic upgrades through the district, but school leaders and board members thought it was valuable to make significant improvements at Estacada High School, for which the higher amount would allow.

Potential updates to the school would include demolishing and then rebuilding the structure’s spine to make it more seismically secure, creating a new media center, moving the administrative offices to the front of the building and creating more collaborative learning and teaching environments.

Tim Shibahara, a parent with three students in the district, spoke in favor of the bond during the meeting.

“I want my kids to grow up, look at the high school and say ‘That’s where I’m going!’” he said. “I don’t think that’s the experience that students are currently having. I feel like (the bond) will take us into the future.”

The specific language of the bond proposal will be presented at the school board’s meeting in August.

Meanwhile, the district will form a new committee for the bond campaign and will have representatives at the Timber Festival on Sunday, July 3, to answer questions about proposed projects and the state of the district’s facilities.

The district hopes to involve the community in the campaign for the bond.

“This needs to be something the community wants, and not just something the school board wants,” said board member Ken Riedel. “If there were ever a time to rally the troops, now’s that time.”

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