Beaverton School District's $723M bond will be on May ballot
The Beaverton School District's board of directors unanimously voted Tuesday, Feb. 15, to approve a $723 million capital improvement bond measure.
Now, the fate of the bond measure rests in the hands of voters in May.
The 30-year proposed bond will raise the funds for modernization, seismic upgrades, technology, deferred maintenance and additional capacity in schools across the district. Projects include complete rebuilds of Beaverton High School and Raleigh Hills K-8 School, two older schools in the district that rated especially low for earthquake preparedness.
The funds would be raised through a property tax increase, estimated at 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. For a home with the average assessed property value — about $303,021 — the estimated tax increase from the bond would be $76 for the first year.
Carl Mead, Beaverton's deputy superintendent, said if voters do not pass the bond in May, the district will have to reach into the general fund for necessary repairs and maintenance.
"The general fund is the same budget that in essence funds our teaching, teachers, all of our classified staff, provides all the various amenities that we're accustomed to within the district," Mead said. "So that budget would have to be tapped, and unfortunately, we would potentially have to pull resources that would ideally be meant and intended for the classroom."
The district will continue to have problems arise across its 60 facilities, he said, and without the bond, the backlog of deferred maintenance would continue to climb.
Chief facilities officer Joshua Gamez said repairs would be reactive to emergencies without the bond.
"With a bond, we can manage priorities, and we can work on a deferred maintenance plan," Gamez said.
School board chair Tom Colett said, "This is actually a really great proposition for our taxpayers. By doing this now, we're actually going to save folks money down the road."
Beaverton School District voters in 2014 approved a capital bond measure. That bond is now expiring, having been used to build or rebuild a number of schools, including Mountainside High School, Arts & Communication Magnet Academy, Tumwater Middle School, and four elementary schools.
Colett said the 2014 bond helped with necessary improvements in schools and classrooms across the district, but he believes this new bond is even more important because it is increasing safety.
One of the major improvements in the proposed bond is seismic safety across the district. The district is also eligible for $8 million from the state for seismic improvements if the bond passes, Mead said.
Forty schools across the district do not meet its standards for earthquake readiness, according to a 2019 seismic evaluation of the buildings.
About $40 million from the bond would fund the first phase of seismic upgrades for Cedar Park, Five Oaks, Highland Park, Meadow Park, Mountain View and Whitford middle schools, which received the lowest scores.
Mead said the reason for the new bond is that "we're constantly having to look forward, not just a year, two years or five years, but we have to take into consideration all the factors in play here."
Becky Tymchuk, board vice chair, said she is proud to live in a community that continues to prepare for years ahead.
"We say we value students here, we value staff — and we show it. We pass bonds," Tymchuk said. "And it's not just one bond. It's years ahead that we see what we're accomplishing by putting money into our facilities."
Now that the board referred the bond to be on the May 17 ballot, it will have to submit official ballot language to the Washington County Elections Division before Saturday, Feb. 26.
More information on the bond and improvement plans by school can be found online at bond.beaverton.k12.or.us.
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