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  • 26 Mar 2015

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  • 27 Mar 2015

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Voters approve school bonds

n Measures 3-455 and 3-456 will fund teaching positions, new school construction

Voters responded positively to two bond measures placed on Tuesday’s general election ballot by the West Linn-Wilsonville School District.

“It’s been a great night for West Linn-Wilsonville,” bond committee chairman and school board member Keith Steele said Tuesday night as early returns came in.

“We’re very grateful for the continued financial support of this community and the high value it places on public education,” he said. “I’m excited for the future of the West Linn-Wilsonville School District and am looking forward to working with my fellow board members and the administration to ensure that this important investment in our local schools delivers maximum value to our kids and community for years to come.”

Unofficial election results released Wednesday morning by the Clackamas County Clerk’s Office showed that the five-year local option levy renewal — Measure 3-455 — passed with 66 percent of the vote.

Based on a property-tax rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value, the local option is expected to raise approximately $3.45 million in the 2015-16 school year and approximately $23.75 million over the five years it will be in effect. The district will use that money to maintain current programs and staffing levels. Right now, 46 teacher positions are funded by the local option.

Concerning the local option, Superintendent Bill Rhoades said that its passage would allow the school district to move forward with planning and budgeting for the next school year.

“In moving forward with the local option ... we will be able to better predict available operating funds for next year,” he said. “This is important as we move into a new biennium with hopes of supporting the additional staff we have hired over the past two years.

“Though we will not know what level of funding will be provided by the state school fund until later in the spring, knowing that we will still have the community’s support through the local option gives us confidence that we will at least be able to support teachers at the current level,” he said.

Measure 3-456, a general obligation bond worth $84.5 million, passed with 55 percent of the vote, according to the unofficial election results.

Passage of that measure would allow the school district to issue general obligation bonds to finance additional school structures and improvements to current facilities. An average cost of $0.87 per $1,000 of assessed value is projected annually over the bond term, with an anticipated cost to homeowners of approximately $174 per year on a home with a $200,000 taxable value.

If the capital construction bond ultimately passes, the school district plans to build a new middle school in Wilsonville off Advance Road. The district also plans to replace its oldest school, Sunset Primary in West Linn.

The bond also would finance smaller projects — including safety, security and maintenance improvements districtwide — and finance the addition of classroom space and renovations in the 700 Building at West Linn High School and to the music and drama wing at Wilsonville High School.

Once results are certified and the measures’ passage confirmed, WL-WV will move forward with planning the financial and construction management plans to initiate projects identified in the bond, Rhoades said.

“A bond management plan will be developed. This will involve district leadership, board leadership and advisement from the long-range planning team,” Rhoades said.

He expressed gratitude for the community’s support.

“The thoughtful leadership of our board, their work together with the community, the consistency of quality in long-range planning, the teamwork of children, staff and parents, and the goodwill toward schools throughout this election season makes winners of us all, independent of the actual outcomes,” Rhoades said.

“I am so proud to work and serve with others in a community that actively places such a high value on the quality of education of its children,” he added.

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