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Bond backers make their case

Last weekend’s heavy rains didn’t stop supporters of a school bond measure from reaching out to fellow voters. Despite cancelling an outside canvassing event Sunday, volunteers used a phone bank to share information with the public.

“We’re excited about conversations we’re having,” said Kim Strelchun, chairwoman of Citizens for Hillsboro Schools, the group promoting a $25 million bond for school maintenance and technology.

Strelchun, who is also chairwoman of the Hillsboro School Board, updated board members on the progress of Measure 34-206 during a work session Tuesday night at the Hillsboro Civic Center.

The $25 million general obligation bond will go before voters in the Nov. 5 election. Mail-in ballots are scheduled to be mailed Oct. 18.

Although Strelchun said the measure has not been on a lot of people’s radars, she said voters contacted by phone have used the opportunity to learn more about the bond and what it could do for Hillsboro schools.

“What they really want to know is how the money will be spent,” said board member Janeen Sollman, who also has talked with voters about the measure.

Sollman said the important message to convey is the bond will not only buy technology, but will help integrate technology with daily learning to improve education.

To fund its election campaign, the action committee has received donations from many area businesses that support its goals, Strelchun said.

The board approved the bond measure in June. The decision to ask voters for assistance came after several years of deferring maintenance for school facilities.

A budget crunch that began in 2008 also has limited the school district’s purchase of new technology, including replacing old computers. About 60 percent of school desktop computers are at least six years old, according to district data. A reduced replacement cycle began in 2010, but routine computer replacement has been on hold for the past three years.

If the bond passes, the cost to property owners will be 42 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or about $84 a year for a home valued at $200,000. The new property tax would begin in November 2014 and continue through November 2018.

At Tuesday’s session, Strelchun noted bond money cannot pay for more teachers, but can be used only for material items that last more than one year.

If the measure is approved, an oversight committee will be formed to monitor bond expenditures. The district plans to use the money in three areas:

n $17 million for instructional technology, including student devices, computers for students and teachers, and projectors.

n $4 million for safety enhancements at schools, including security cameras, line-of-sight improvements, interior locking doors and card-key access.

n $4 million for facility maintenance projects, including seismic upgrades and roof replacements.

According to Beth Graser, communications director for the Hillsboro School District, if voters reject the bond it would hinder the district’s ability to replace old computers, relying instead on reserve funds for critical needs.

“Either that or our board would have to decide to prioritize technology funding in future budgets,” Graser explained via email. “But in the absence of additional money from the state, that would likely either come at the expense of staff, instructional days or programs, or again come out of reserves, which are quickly dwindling.”



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Hillsboro

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  • 23 Oct 2014

    Cloudy 59°F 47°F

  • 24 Oct 2014

    PM Rain 59°F 48°F