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Canby School District continues bond development process, waits to choose between May or November ballots

As the school district continues to explore the potential to put a multi-million-dollar bond on an upcoming ballot, the school board still has not decided whether to pursue the bond in May or in November.

The need for a decision between the two arose because of a grant deadline.

The district has won $4.7 million in matching grant funds if a May bond is successful.

But if the board opted to pursue a November bond instead, leaders would need to withdraw the application for May's $4.7 million by Nov. 15 and reapply for November with no guarantee of again winning the matching funds.

Due to this deadline, the board was first expected to decide on Thursday, Nov. 7 about May or November; but board member Tom Scott raised concern about the timeline for May possibly being too short to thoroughly and effectively engage the community in the process.

Other board members agreed, so they didn't decide Nov. 7 and instead held a special session on Thursday, Nov. 14 — one day before the deadline — where they were once again expected to decide between May or November.

Representatives from BRIC Architecture, Inc., Withycombe Scotten & Associates engineering consultants and Wright Public Affairs attended the special meeting to explain a potential process for putting a bond on the May ballot.

Karina Ruiz, of BRIC, suggested combining bond-development-advisory committee meetings with community engagement sessions instead of holding those meetings separately.

Canby school board member Dawn Depner asked if Ruiz had used this method in the past and if it was successful.

Ruiz noted that the team of individuals at the meeting has a high success rate when it comes to helping districts pass bonds, but admitted she usually starts the process sooner — by September or October at the latest.

"What I think I want to be able to convey adequately here is I don't think we're shortchanging the process by creating this alternative process," Ruiz said. "Rather, we are developing a process to address the timeframe we have with as much integrity and authenticity as we can provide. So, if I'm answering your question frankly, no I don't think I've ever done it in this period, but I've never designed this type of process either because every district has a different approach."

Jeremy Wright of Wright Public Affairs piped in to point out that Canby's polling results were favorable.

"I would tell you guys that this is too fast, except that your polling is pretty good," Wright said.

Ultimately, the board decided to not decide.

The board did not vote whether to go for a bond in May or in November but agreed to continue the process and decide before Feb. 28, the May filing deadline.

"We are aware of the risk that if we don't go forward with May, then we will not be eligible for that grant this fall," said Board Chair Angi Dilkes, "and essentially we decided that we're comfortable with that risk."

The board will work with BRIC Architecture, Inc. and Withycombe Scotten & Associates to engage a bond advisory committee and the Canby community in developing a bond package, according to Autumn Foster, the district's project manager and communication coordinator.

In February, if board members decide to not move forward for May, then more development will take place on a bond package for the November ballot. In this case, the district would lose the $4.7 million in matching funds since the Nov. 15 deadline to withdraw has passed.


Kristen Wohlers
Reporter
503-263-7512
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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