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A series of meetings and polling highlights the past few weeks for the district

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - A bond being considered by the Newberg School District would likely include replacement of aging Dundee Elementary School.

In the early stages of concocting a bond proposal for voters that would appear on the May 2020 ballot, the Newberg School District is deciding what exactly it would contain and how much it should cost. This is being discussed by the district's bond development committee, which is comprised of parents, community members, staff, district administrators and other interested parties.

The committee met for the third time on Nov. 12 to go over some of the subjects discussed at previous meetings before really getting into the details of the issue. According to district communications coordinator Gregg Koskela, it was a highly productive meeting.

"This was our third meeting and this one is the main course of what we're trying to do," Koskela said. "BRIC Architecture, the company we've hired to formulate these proposed renovations and changes, came with an exercise for us. We divided into groups of four to five and we talked about the various ideas we've brainstormed for the bond."

BRIC provided rough cost estimates for all the potential features of the school bond, went over them with committee members and tasked them with formulating a suggestion for a bond package. Right now, the district is deciding between a total cost of between $135 million and $150 million for the bond.

"This is just part of our process. Having people crunch those numbers for what's important and what we should have in the eventual package," Koskela said. "All of that data is part of this process for the board eventually developing what will be on the official bond."

The first meeting for the committee was an opportunity to go over the long-range facilities plan put out by the district more than a year ago. The second meeting was an extension of that discussion, with more emphasis on potential proposals that didn't make it into that original plan.

The Nov. 12 meeting added all of those proposals into one big pot and committee members stirred it, looking for the right combination that fits into the bond's potential budget.

Koskela said there were positive developments from the third meeting as committee members busily crafted mock proposals.

"The common theme is how much agreement there is on the major things in the bond," Koskela said. "The things that are different between the groups are not the major pieces, which is good that we're in agreement on a lot of these things."

Among the major pieces agreed upon by the majority of committee members was replacement of Dundee Elementary School, a district-wide focus on career and technical education and much-needed refurbishments at Edwards Elementary School.

Koskela said there are safety concerns over Dundee Elementary's proximity to Highway 99W and the building is in need of a full replacement to meet students' needs. He also said Edwards Elementary is among the facilities in most need of improvement and that the bond will likely include expansion of classrooms and a renovated cafeteria, among other changes to the aging school.

"There was strong support for career and technical education refurbishment as well," Koskela said. "We want to renovate schools throughout the district to bring CTE and STEM education opportunities from elementary school all the way through high school.

"We want to make sure there is something improved in every single school. There are definitely big ticket items, but we have plenty of things on the docket to make sure there are solid improvements across the board."

The bond development committee's next meeting is set for Dec. 4 at the district offices. It is a closed meeting that is not open for public participation, but Koskela said the district wants to hear from the community in a variety of ways. Public meetings facilitated by BRIC will be scheduled soon so community members can make their voices heard on the bond proposal.

The district also just completed its first set of polling in the community. Koskela said the results of that polling are still being tabulated, but the raw numbers show that a proposal between $135 and $150 million is the most popular range among likely voters.

For other updates on upcoming public meetings and progress on the bond, visit the Newberg Public Schools Facebook page or go online to Newberg.k12.or.us.


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