When the Mount Angel School District goes out for a bond, you know it’s for a good reason.

The last time the district went out for a bond, in 1995, it needed to build a school after its elementary school had been ruined by the 1993 earthquake.

Now, the district needs help in maintaining its other buildings and is asking voters to approve a $10.4 million bond. The Independent endorses this measure.

John F. Kennedy High School, built in 1959, and Mount Angel Middle School, built in 1967, have never seen renovations. And it shows.

Just this past summer, the district took out a loan (which the bond would pay off) for maintenance that couldn’t be delayed. This included asbestos abatement of the high school cafeteria ceiling. The cafeteria is below the gym, so anytime someone bounced a ball in the gym, not only did it cause a racket, but there was a chance there would be cancer-causing particles in your soup.

Not only will the bond pay off the $656,000 loan, but it will be used for security upgrades and efficient ways of utilizing space. At St. Mary’s Public School, this simply means reconstructing the parking lot and dropoff areas to improve traffic flow.

At Mount Angel Middle School, improvements include moving the main office to the front of the building for security reasons and upgrading the gym so it meets regulations. Currently, the middle school sports teams have to use the elementary school gym instead of their own, which currently has asbestos in its concrete flooring.

At the high school, a new commons/multipurpose area will function as a cafeteria, study hall area and even community meeting space. Locker rooms, the weight room and the career technical education program space will be renovated. The track also needs to be fixed to meet regulations.

The fact is, if this bond doesn’t pass, the district really has no other options. It can afford to pay off the loan, but it won’t be able to function as effectively and, more importantly, students’ safety could be compromised.

The cost to taxpayers is $3.50 per $1,000 assessed property value. Yes, that’s more than they’re paying now, but unlike the last bond, it will not fluctuate. The payment is roughly what property owners paid in 2006.

Lastly, there are no surprises here. The district has been talking to the community for nearly two years, collecting feedback and ideas for how to move forward.

Mount Angel is proud of its schools and should be proud of its school buildings as well. Vote yes for Measure 24-356.

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