Board members likely to take action on proposal April 4

The Gresham-Barlow School Board has agreed to seek voter approval of a $210 million bond measure that would fund school renovations plus security and technology upgrades throughout the district.

On Thursday, March 7, the board accepted the recommendation by an advisory committee to proceed with a bond election.

While the advisory committee recommended taking the measure before voters in May 2013, the board favors waiting until the November 2013 ballot.

School board members voted to direct staff to craft the language and an explanatory statement for the November ballot.

“We recognize that our community is still struggling with the effects of this recession, but we have an opportunity — historically low interest rates and low construction costs — to ask our community to make this investment in our schools,” Matt O’Connell, school board vice chairman, said in a press release. “A school bond could also boost Gresham’s economy by generating construction jobs.”

If approved, the $210 million measure would increase the district’s school bond rate to $2.50 per $1,000, or an additional $1.41 per $1,000. For a property assessed at $200,000 the increase would be approximately $23 a month.

The district’s current $1.09 per $1,000 school bond rate is made up of more than one school bond. If the school bond under consideration was not approved by the voters, some of the $1.09 school bonds would mature in 2017, while the rest would mature in 2021.

The bond would rebuild the almost 100-year-old Gresham High School, repurpose West Gresham Elementary School and consolidate Deep Creek Elementary School and Damascus Middle School into a kindergarten through eighth-grade model.

Additionally, all schools would receive safety and security improvements, upgrade buildings that average 40 years old, improve career technical education and STEM classes (science technology, engineering and mathematics) and allow for increased enrollment and full-day kindergarten.

The school board is expected to take action on the bond measure proposal at its Thursday, April 4, meeting.

While the committee had recommended placing the bond on the May ballot, school board members discussed placing the measure on the November ballot instead to give ample time to inform the public about the proposed projects.

The district has posted the Bond Measure Planning Committee’s recommendation on its website at

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