In all of our years of service, the four of us have found plenty of opportunities for disagreement. As the current and three previous mayors of Oregon City, we all have different perspectives and political beliefs about what's best for the future of our town.
With that said, all four of us are in complete agreement on one very important local issue for Oregon City voters: We all support the school bond, Measure 3-545.
The Oregon City School Bond was deliberately crafted over the past two years to respond directly to the needs, values and priorities of the Oregon City community. It was specifically designed to ensure that every student in our schools can be guaranteed a safe and secure campus in which to learn. Safety investments will be made at every school in the district, such as internally locking doors, secured entrances to the buildings and new fire sprinklers.
The Oregon City School Bond also provides funding to address overcrowding at our middle schools. Gardiner and Ogden are each operating at 140 percent of planned capacity, and district enrollment is expected to grow by 8 percent over the next year.
Since our middle schools are already significantly overcapacity; the problem will only get worse if we don't address overcrowding now. The bond provides funding to rebuild Gardiner and renovate Ogden to prepare for this expected growth.
Oregon City's schools are aging and in need of repair. The average Oregon City elementary or middle school is 61 years old; some are 80 years old! It's difficult to teach in classrooms with leaky roofs, drafty windows or broken heating systems. It's even more difficult for students to learn in these environments. The district will save taxpayer money in the long run by investing in energy efficiency: upgrading windows and insulation, repairing or replacing aging heating and cooling systems and using LED lighting wherever possible.
These crucial investments in the safety and security of our students come at a bargain cost for taxpayers. The proposed school bond raises the existing rate of assessment by only 10 cents to $1.24 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That translates to an increase of approximately $2.50 a month, or $30 a year for a typical house in Oregon City assessed at $300,000.
A citizen oversight committee will review every dollar raised and spent. These funds are prohibited by the Oregon Constitution from being spent on PERS, teacher's salaries or other employee expenses. The district has a demonstrable history of excellence in fiscal accountability and responsibility. This investment will provide improved classrooms to teachers and students, to ensure that our students receive a 21st-century education.
Today when our national and state political climate has turned dark and divisive, it's important for our community to work together to support common-sense investments in our neighborhoods. Public schools are the bedrock of a strong community. The Oregon City School District deserves accolades for their diligent work to propose a school bond that prepares current and future generations of students for success.
Please join us in voting yes for Measure 3-545 and passing the Oregon City School Bond.
Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay worked with with former mayors Doug Neeley, Alice Norris and Dan Fowler to produce this opinion piece.