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If the early-return numbers hold, schools will be upgraded with $65 million in bond money.

PMG PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - As of Tuesday, it looks like voters are OK'ing a Centennial School District bond measure.The $65 million bond to upgrade Centennial School District buildings was passing in initial returns Tuesday night, 52% to 48% with a margin of 306 votes.

"I hope (the results) stay this way. We've had so much support. People in the Centennial community understand the need to pass this bond," said Shar Giard, co-chair of Centennial's bond committee.

The Centennial facilities bond was ahead 56% to 44% in Clackamas County, but that is based on only 506 votes total. In Multnomah County, the bond was passing by 52% to 48%.

As with other races and initiatives, Centennial bond boosters were hampered by the social distancing restrictions put in place to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic. Centennial bond supporters could not knock on doors or speak to civic and neighborhood groups, but they did leave literature at homes in the district, Giard said.

But voters might have been swayed by the fact that the bond, if it passes, will not raise property taxes, because another bond is expiring.

Centennial is not planning any new schools with the bond money. The bulk of the bond funds, about $37.5 million, will be used to repair Centennial's aging schools. Some buildings, which on average are 55 years old, need new roofs. Plumbing and electrical systems would be repaired and upgraded. Unsafe carpeting would be replaced.

The bond also would facilitate the district's plans to move sixth graders to middle school from elementary school. The district plans to change Oliver Elementary School, 15840 S.E. Taylor St., back to a middle school at a cost of about $8 million.

A facilities report said moving the sixth graders would better align curriculum and improve the ability to build relationships with students since the middle school students would spend three years in middle school instead of two. The change would also better balance enrollment across the district.

The bond will also pay to add gyms to four elementary schools that do not have them. Meadows, Patrick Lynch, Powell Butte and Parklane elementary schools do not have gyms and their multipurpose rooms are often over scheduled, a study of the district's facilities said.

About $2.8 million of the bond will be used to make safety and security upgrades at all of the district schools.

If the bond passes, Centennial will get a $7.5 million matching grant from the state.

If this bond ultimately passes, it will be the first time since 2004 the district was successful in passing a bond. Voters turned down Centennial in 2016 on a $85 million bond to build a new middle school, add five multipurpose rooms to elementary schools and repair and upgrade aging buildings.

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