Part II in a series: Looking at why proponents have placed a new school bond measure on the November ballot

MRSD - Architect's rendering of a new Molalla Elementary School at the current middle school siteSome taxpayers in the Molalla River School District question the need for more classroom space and building repairs for children in the district elementary schools. Some ask why they should vote yes for a school improvement bond that would fund those measures.

According to the district, if Bond Measure 3-504 passes, the $88.9 million construction bond would improve school safety, replace old roofs and heating and ventilation systems, and construct new, energy efficient elementary and middle schools to help prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow.

MRSD  - Chart shows all classrooms are in use at every elementary school in the district “We are committed to protecting the community’s investment in our rural schools by addressing maintenance, safety and security at all schools,” District Superintendent. Tony Mann said. “In addition, we are faced with responding to increased population in the city of Molalla.”

In 2015, a citizen-led Long Range Facilities Planning Committee studied options for the district’s facilities and concluded that the current elementary schools were at or near enrollment capacity and in order to meet the community’s demand for a quality education, significant new investment in facilities would be necessary.

The committee based its recommendation on:

- Current enrollment and capacity at Molalla elementary schools,

- The number of classrooms and the programs being delivered in those schools,

- Options to convert existing spaces to create additional classrooms

- And projected enrollment in the next ten years based on demographic information produced by Portland State University.

“In the past two years, hundreds of new homes and apartments have been constructed in our district, hundreds more are planned for the future,” Mann said. “Our school facilities are, on average, more than 50 years old. Most of the plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems are inefficient or have reached the end of their useful life.”

- All the existing classrooms at all elementary schools are full.

- Teachers with students are currently using every classroom.

- The district has converted spaces at Molalla Elementary, Rural Dell and Mulino to provide additional classroom space to keep pace with enrollment.

- There are no additional spaces available to convert to classrooms without sacrificing programs that are either required by law or that our community has said are important to a quality education, including, library, PE, technology, and music.

In order to continue providing cost-effective services, maintaining existing neighborhood schools, and delivering a quality education the Long Range Facility Planning Committee recommended that the District construct a new elementary school at the site of the current middle school after constructing a new middle school adjacent to the existing high school.

The district’s plan would incorporate those elements of the existing middle school that are viable. These include gymnasiums and the current sixth grade wing.

The final design of the school will be decided with community participation, Mann said.

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