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Tigard-Tualatin voters expected to weigh in on $291 million bond this fall

Bond would build new school on Bull Mountain, make safety improvements

TIMES FILE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - A rebuild of James Templeton Elementary School is near the top of the Tigard-Tualatin school board's wishlist. The board is considering referring the largest bond measure in the Tigard-Tualatin School District's history to the ballot this year.Voters in Tigard and Tualatin could vote this fall on the largest bond measure in local school district history.

For months, the Tigard-Tualatin School District has been considering placing a bond measure before voters this November, which could include a laundry list of projects the district would like to tackle, from building a new school on Bull Mountain and purchasing new curriculum, to improving HVAC systems and adding keycard locks to some exterior doors.

The district has been holding community meetings to discuss which projects the bond might pay for.

The answer, it appears, is all of them.

The school board is expected to formalize plans next month for a $291 million bond, according to Susan Stark Haydon, a spokeswoman with the district.

If the school board moves ahead with the measure as expected, voters would be asked to increase the current tax rate to about 39 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or about $9.75 a month — $117 per year — for a $300,000 home.

That money will pay for the planned Art Rutkin Elementary School on Bull Mountain, named after the longtime principal and board member who died in 2010. That school is needed to accommodate the influx of students expected to come to a large new development along Southwest Roy Rogers Road.

The bond would also rebuild James Templeton Elementary and Twality Middle schools, the district’s oldest active buildings, which were built in 1960.

The bond would pay for improvements in one form or another at every school in the district. Many are aimed at beefing up security.

“The schools we’re redoing were built at a time when you didn’t have the same safety issues that you worry about now,” Stark Haydon said. “We need to build schools for today.”

Templeton was built in a “California style,” Stark Haydon said, requiring students to exit the main building in order to reach their classrooms. That layout has drawn concerns from some parents after school shootings in Roseburg and Troutdale.

“That’s a lot of improvements to facilities and providing schools for the long term future," Stark Haydon said.

The bond is similar to one voters passed in 2002, Stark Haydon said. That $80 million bond measure paid for the construction of Alberta Rider Elementary School, rebuilt three other schools and made major additions to Tigard and Tualatin high schools and Hazelbrook Middle School.

“The difference in cost between then and today is that the cost of construction has gone up dramatically since then,” Stark Haydon said.

The expected cost of November’s bond is up from the initial proposal of $285 million. Stark Haydon said the increase is due to the high cost of construction.

“We re-calculated the figure based on what bids are coming back with,” Stark Haydon said. “Some projects ended up costing more than we’d thought. Other projects we hadn’t considered we realized were connected to ones on the list, like at Fowler (Middle School). We want to move the office to the front of the school, but then that will displace classrooms that were using that space, so we'd have to add money to make space that would function as a classroom.”

The district is currently conducting an online survey requesting community input about the fall bond and how it should be used.

Results will be presented to the school board on June 13.

By Geoff Pursinger
Assistant Editor
The Times, serving Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood
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