School leaders will ask voters for $22.9M bond in November
After removing a general obligation bond from the May ballot because of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Estacada School Board will ask voters to consider the question in November.
During a meeting Thursday, Aug. 12, school board members voted to place a $22.9 million general obligation bond on the November 2020 ballot. If the measure is approved by voters, the Estacada School District will receive a $4 million grant from the Oregon School Capital Improvement match program.
If approved, the bond will be paid back over 16 years and is estimated to cost taxpayers approximately 95 cents per thousand of assessed property value, which is $199 per year for the median residential assessed value of $215,756. The district would establish a citizen oversight committee to ensure proceeds are properly used.
Though the board members voted unanimously to place the bond on the ballot, each of them acknowledged it was a difficult decision because of the pandemic.
"I know it's a tough time for our community, but we need this for our schools," said director Rochelle Shibahara. "This need is not going away. I believe there may never be a perfect time to put something like this in front of our community. I feel very strongly that our district has really shown up well during these tough times, and I hope that they would respond in a favorable way and support this bond."
"Everybody is getting some kind of relief on their mortgages and so we don't really know what the impact is going to be in our community right now," added director Rosa Martinez. "But then again, our buildings are old. That's not going to change. They're just going to get worse, whether we fix it now or wait until it gets worse and costs more."
Projects funded by the bond will focus on health and safety — addressing overcrowding and upgrading school systems — and work will include installing and upgrading security camera systems; air quality improvements such as filtration, HVAC controls and classroom air conditioning; ADA improvements; classroom additions at one or both of the district's elementary schools; energy efficiencies and electrical system improvements; roofing and plumbing projects; improved classroom lighting; improved information technology infrastructure; cafeteria renovations; renovating deteriorating facilities; court, stadium, and multi-use field improvements; and parking lot repaving.
School district leaders held town hall meetings last winter and spring and formed a task committee consisting of school staff, school board members and community members to explore options for bond funding.
In the November 2016 election, Estacada area voters said no to a $55.1 million general obligation bond.
"I consider the district property the community's house. We need to take care of it," said director Joe Behrman.
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