Funding needed to build new middle school in Wilsonville

The West Linn-Wilsonville School Board took the first official steps toward placing a capital improvement bond on the ballot.

During its meeting Jan. 13, the board adopted a plan recommended by the district’s long-range planning committee. No decision on presenting a bond measure will be made until after public comment is received during a bond summit scheduled for Feb. 22.

Steele“It will be an all-day sort of engagement,” WL-WV Board Chairman Keith Steele said of the summit.

At the summit, school board members, district administrators and committee members will make presentations, collect input and gauge public support for a bond measure.

“We will have the first of many discussions about what this community sees coming up and what they want us to do for the next 10 years or so,” Steele said.

School district residents previously have approved capital improvement bond measures in 1979, 1988, 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2008. The most recent bond, passed in 2008 and worth $98 million, expires at the end of the 2013-14 school year.

The 2008 bond funded the construction of two new primary schools, Trillium Creek in West Linn and Lowrie in Wilsonville. by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO - Wilsonville's Lowrie Primary School was constructed with funds included in the school district's 2008 bond.Other projects included the remodeling or construction of libraries and kitchens at existing schools, improvement to athletic fields, district-wide technology investments and the total renovation of the district administration building on Stafford Road.

Although the district has not decided whether to place a bond measure on the ballot in 2014, officials have indicated the need for a new middle school in Wilsonville, where the existing middle school, Inza R. Wood, is above capacity and using portable classrooms to accommodate overflow. Land is available for a new middle school and a new primary school, to be sited on a parcel of land the district owns off Advance Road.

Enrollment projections show the district will be at or near to capacity in its existing primary, middle and high schools by 2018.

The district’s long-range planning committee has worked for months to update the long-range plan, a document first created in 1996 and amended in 2000, 2005 and 2007. The school board accepted the recommendation of Tim Woodley, director of operations, and adopted the updated version presented Jan. 13.

The long-range plan includes a laundry list of potential capital improvement projects. Woodley emphasized that those projects are listed in non-priority order and that the list includes carryover projects from the 2008 bond as well as new and emerging potential projects.

“We will continue to finalize the project scope and the estimates that go along with them,” Woodley told the board. “We will repeatedly review them with the long-range planning committee and the board. They will be presented at the bond summit.”

The bond summit will be the public’s first opportunity to comment on the plan and project list. The long-range plan document is available through the school district’s website,

Though no decision will be made until after bond summit, the board has begun preparing for the possibility. Steele said he attended a “ballots, bonds and buildings” conference presented by Oregon School Board Association in Salem on Jan. 10. Though he has experience with bond campaigns, having served on the district’s 2008 bond committee, Steele said he was surprised by how much he learned at the conference.

“I was floored by how much I learned,” he said.

Steele shared with the school board two lessons that he brought away from the conference.

“There is no beginning and no end to bonds,” he said. “In terms of community involvement and making sure you’re in touch, that never ends.”

The second lesson was shared at the conference by school districts that had experienced the failure of bond measures at the ballot.

“Remember, it’s not your bond, it’s not the board’s bond, it’s not the school district’s bond,” Steele said. “It’s the community’s bond and you’d be well advised to never forget that.”

Budget calendar

Also during the meeting, Business Manager Doug Middlestetter reported a projected ending fund balance of $334,683 for the fiscal year.

“It’s our best guess as to what the ending fund balance will be on June 30 as this budget comes to and end,” Middlestetter said. “Our job in the business office is to, in a conservative manner, pick an estimate. We’re working with estimates.”

The ending fund balance will not affect spending in the current budget year; it will flow through into the projections for the 2014-15 school year.

The school board’s Jan. 21 work session included an overview of factors the budget committee will be considering. The committee will develop a budget proposal in the coming months, including a series of public meetings, and must present a draft budget to the board in May and a final document for approval at the June board meeting.

The next regular board meeting will be Feb. 3.

Kate Hoots can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 112 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow her on Twitter: @CommuniKater.

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