Crook County School District leaders consider next steps after bond measure failure
The Crook County school bond measure may have suffered a narrow defeat, but school district officials have not ruled out trying again.
According to School District Communications Director Jason Carr, the school board is holding a work session this coming Monday that members will devote entirely to discussion about a potential bond measure in the future. They will likely consider whether to go out for a bond in the upcoming general election in November or wait until the following May or later. The discussion could also whether it would be necessary to reduce the cost of the bond or downsize types of projects it would fund.
"One of the things that board member Doug Smith brought up on Monday (June 13) is just understanding how inflation and labor and those factors will impact the next bond measure," Carr added. "Can we accomplish the same projects for the same price?"
The initial $66 million bond measure proposed improvements that included upgrading locks and securing access systems; air quality improvements, including filtration, heating and cooling; asbestos abatement; electrical, roofing, flooring and plumbing improvements; repairs and updates to the Ward Rhoden Stadium; ADA improvements; upgrades to vocational and performing art spaces; upgrades to athletic and weight training facilities; additional classrooms at Steins Pillar Elementary, Powell Butte Elementary and Crook County Middle School; and capital improvements that include site improvements, demolition, furnishings, equipment and funds to pay bond insurance costs.
Despite a variety of scheduled community engagements, including public forums at multiple schools, and campaigning led by a political action committee, the bond measure was voted down by a narrow margin -- 3,866 to 3,660, a difference of 206 votes.
Carr noted that a larger concentration of no votes came from the Juniper Canyon area and in rural portions of the county surrounding Prineville. Meanwhile, the bond measure was favored by voters inside the Prineville city limits and by voters living in Powell Butte. Consequently, part of the discussion on a new bond may include figuring out why more voters in that area rejected the bond measure.
While the timing and scope of a future bond measure is subject to discussion, one glaring fact remains — the need to make structural improvements throughout the district has not gone away. Carr points out that upgrades are still needed for aging roofs and for boilers that are anywhere from 70 to 90 years old. Updates to out-of-date and inefficient HVAC systems are still needed and some of the district's building need security and safety issues addressed. And none of those upgrades can be tackled with the existing district budget.
"There isn't enough revenue from the state. We don't have enough of a maintenance budget to make some of these upgrades," Carr said. "So, it is really going to take a bond measure of some kind to allow the district to make some of these improvements and fixes that are desperately needed."
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