In May, we lost our school bond election by 37 votes. At its July meeting, the Woodburn School Board approved running the bond again, but decided to wait to place it back on the ballot until 2015.

Everyone in the school district recognizes that the bond is important to providing safe, well-maintained schools with adequate classroom space for students. We also recognize that community support is critical to passing any funding measure, and hope this decision to wait won’t have far-reaching consequences.

Your support is important because we are actually on the road to passing a bond to secure our students’ future if we do this the right way. Here’s how we know.

The Woodburn School District has tried to pass two other bonds since 2006, and these efforts failed by much wider margins. Closing the gap as much as we did is a clear indicator that we continue to listen to the community and value its input.

For example, as we developed this last bond package, we heard from many older residents and working families who were concerned about a lackluster economy. That’s why we set the bond rate at a lower estimated tax rate than property owners currently pay.

We also heard people say that we needed to ask for a reasonable amount as opposed to fixing everything that was a problem. That’s why the school board approved a resolution for $65 million to meet the immediate needs of our students as opposed to $120 million in identified needs by the school bond committee.

We outreached to parents, guardians, students, community leaders and business owners to provide them with information on the bond. We also spent time with people who don’t have children in our schools to listen to their concerns and share information on why safe, well-maintained schools with adequate classroom space are important to strong communities.

We came so close in the May election because we listened to our community — and we need to do it again. That’s why we didn’t rush back to the ballot when we lost, like so many school districts do. We feel there is value in taking time to reflect on what the community is telling us.

Our next step will be a series of public meetings seeking input about what we need to do to cross the finish line and continue to build on the community support we have so far. After this, the school board will reassess the bond and determine what projects it should fund. The last step will be a public hearing before the school board votes on a resolution to place the bond back on the ballot in 2015. While a final date is undetermined, a May 2015 election will be the last opportunity for voters to renew the bond at a lower estimated tax rate than they currently pay.

I don’t believe an election that close is telling us, “No.” I believe what it says is, “You’re almost there,” which is why we need to take the time that is needed to get it right.

Contract Publishing

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