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Hillsboro schools will seek $25 million bond


Voters in the Hillsboro School District will soon be asked to consider a $25 million general obligation bond to pay for technology, building maintenance and safety upgrades.

The Hillsboro School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to place the bond measure on the Nov. 5 ballot.

After several months of discussions, board members decided a general obligation bond — not an operating levy — would best meet the needs of the district.

The five-year bond would cost property owners 30 cents per $1,000 of assessed value over the first four years of the bond — or about $60 per year for a $200,000 home — and 90 cents per $1,000 in the final year. The jump in cost in the last year corresponds with other district bonds being paid off.

The largest piece of the $25 million pie would go to fund technology upgrades for infrastructure and hardware.

Plans call for $17 million to be spent for staff and student desktop computers and other devices, instructional materials and wireless accessibility.

“We need to know what (the technology) is going to look like,” said board member Rebecca Lantz, referring to the rapid pace of change in technology. “Make sure the community has weighed in.”

District officials plan to allocate about $400,000 each year from the general fund to sustain the technology upgrades.

“That’s what we haven’t been doing,” said Superintendent Mike Scott.

A study done earlier this year found that nearly 60 percent of the desktop computers in the schools are six or more years old and obsolete.

About $4 million of the bond money would be allocated for safety and security upgrades at schools, including things like key card access, interior locking doors, security cameras and improved line of sight from the main office to the front doors.

Another $4 million would be used for facilities maintenance and repair projects. The district has a list of “highest priority” projects estimated to cost $15 million, with $4 million from the bond — plus money from a Construction Excise Tax — funding the most pressing needs over the next five years.

If approved, bond funds would be available for the 2014-15 school year.

The board also approved a salary increase for Scott and extended his contract for one year, to June 2016. Scott has declined to take a pay raise every year since becoming superintendent. His salary will increase from $175,000 to $176,500 per year.

Board members bade farewell to two outgoing members with a combined 29 years of service on the board.

Carolyn Ortman served for 21 years, and chose not to seek re-election. In her tenure on the board, she saw the construction of two high schools and eight new elementary schools in the district.

Rebecca Lantz served for eight years, and lost her race for re-election to Erik Seligman.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Lantz said, indicating she will remain involved in volunteering. “Every single one of our kids are important.”