509-J School Board unanimously approves to proceed with $24 million bond measure on November ballot
The 509-J School Board voted 5-0 to proceed with placing a $24 million bond measure on the November ballot during a special board meeting held on July 19.
The $24 million bond measure is estimated not to increase the current tax rate if the measure passes, a media release from the school district states. If the measure passes, the district will receive a $4 million grant from the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching (OSCIM) Program to help fund capital bond projects.
"Through prudent planning, this measure is not estimated to increase taxes in our community," shared Board Chair Laurie Danzuka. "We believe this bond will protect our students and staff and facilities while being good stewards of community resources. The board and the district respect the financial concerns of our community."
The proposed bond measure will address critical health, safety and security upgrades in all of the district's schools. In addition, the bond aims to make energy efficiency updates; upgrade ADA accessibility, and repair and upgrade existing buildings. The bond would fund the expansion of vocational/CTE and early learning programs with additional classroom space at both Warm Springs K-8 Academy and the Westside Building, where Bridges High School is currently located. In addition, bond proceeds would be used to conduct lighting and facility upgrades to improve soccer fields and facilities at Madras High School.
509-J has been through a long process to reach this step. In October of 2020, the district conducted a facilities condition assessment, which informed the district's long-range facility plan. This plan assessed the district's facilities needs over the next 10 years based on the building condition assessments, educational adequacy assessments, and capacity analyses. It also provides a capital improvement plan for addressing building condition deficiencies, as well as educational program changes, and enrollment growth.
In the spring of 2020, the district partnered with citizens, parents, students and staff members to form a bond development committee to gather public input on the needs of school buildings and the priorities of the bond measure. The bond development committee collaborated with district leadership and architectural experts to form a comprehensive $24 million bond package recommendation to the 509-J Board of Directors.
"We believe this bond creates educational opportunities for all students while also providing responsible stewardship for the district and community," shared Ken Stout, a member of the district's bond development committee. "Our students and teachers have been through so much in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this package will provide a needed boost for them."
An independent, citizen-led Bond Oversight Committee will be established by the district to oversee the use of bond funds if the measure passes.
The district will announce a series of informational opportunities about the upcoming November bond measure in the coming weeks. Please visit the district's website at https://www.jcsd.k12.or.us for updates and more information.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.