District must expand, renovate and modernize facilities

The fast-growing Beaverton School District is bursting with students eager to learn — so many students, in fact, that more than a third of the district’s 51 schools are beyond their capacity.

The district has dealt with the overflow by pushing 209 of its classrooms into portable buildings and by generally squeezing as many bodies as it can into often-aging facilities. If this enrollment surge were a temporary phenomenon, the district could struggle through the population bubble and survive with its existing buildings.

But it’s not a fleeting concern. The Beaverton district has grown by 2,600 students in the past eight years, and it will continue to attract young families, based in part on the fine reputation of its schools.

According to estimates from the district and Portland State University’s Population Research Center, the Beaverton School District’s enrollment — now at nearly 40,000 — will increase by another 5,400 students in the next 11 years.

To keep up with the projected growth, the district needs money to build new schools and to upgrade the buildings it already has. That’s why district officials have proposed a $680 million bond measure that would pay for a new high school, middle school and elementary school. It will also allow the district to replace four outdated schools: Hazeldale, Vose and William Walker elementaries and the Arts and Communication Magnet Academy.

This measure, if approved by voters in the May 20 election, also would pay for critical safety improvements, renovation of existing schools and completion of long-needed repairs, such as new roofs on many buildings. Over a period of eight years, the bonds would provide new capacity, modernize and renovate all facilities and replace outdated learning technology.

For some voters, the size of the bond measure may give pause, but this request isn’t as financially burdensome as it might appear. Because older bonds will be retired as new bonds are sold, the school district will maintain its current bond tax rate of $2.11 per $1,000 of assessed value. That means taxpayers will continue to pay the same amount for education as they do now.

There’s no question that the Beaverton district must expand, renovate and modernize its facilities. And the price tag will never be any cheaper than it is today. Quality schools are the basis for Beaverton’s livability and its economic success. Voters within the Beaverton School District should approve Measure 34-219 and agree to continue their generous support of local schools.

Contract Publishing

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