State-required plan is the next step in planning for potential bond measure in 2019

The Newberg School District board of directors has authorized staff to hire a consultant to help the district produce a long-range facilities plan.

The district produced its last plan in 2011 and is required by state law to produce a new one every 10 years, but is moving forward with a new plan as the next step toward a potential bond measure to put before voters in 2019.

Assistant Superintendent Dave Parker presented the board with bids from four firms at its Dec. 9 meeting, recommending that the district hire Mahlum Architects.

At its Jan. 9 meeting, the board authorized Parker to complete a contract for up to $124,610, which will be paid for from the district's construction excise tax fund, not the general fund.

"We would then use that information to look at what are our next best steps," Parker told the board.

A new aspect of the state law requires that districts hire a licensed assessor to complete an evaluation of current facilities. Parker told the board that it was his understanding that the law correlates to an effort by the state to create a database of school facilities in order to get a clear picture of how much overall deferred maintenance is needed to maintain all of Oregon's public schools.

"It's been quite a few years since we've had a professional assessment of our structures, so we definitely need to do that," director Melinda Van Bossuyt said. "Actually, I think this is probably a good state law that came into play to help districts do sound planning."

Parker told the board that the contract will run through January 2019 and that Mahlum will also organize several community meetings to present the long-range facilities plan to stakeholders, but that a different consultant will be hired to do polling specifically looking into what projects the community would likely support in any bond measure.

"I like the approach of really figuring out what it is we need before we figure out what it is we're going to do," Van Bossuyt said. "That I can vote for."

Parker also noted that four of the district's facilities have been evaluated seismically, but that the new assessment required for the long-range facilities plan will bring the remaining six in line with those that have already been done.

Parker was part of a four-member committee, along with finance director Ilean Cluete, high school principal Kyle Laier and facilities director Larry Hampton, that evaluated the bids. He told the board in December that the committee felt both BRIC Architects and Mahlum would do a good job for the district, but that Mahlum put forward a more detailed proposal and was more experienced.

Last week, the proposal passed unanimously, and with relatively little discussion.

"Now the work starts," Parker said afterwards.