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Voters approve school funding Measure 5-282 for safety and technology upgrades

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - The new St. Helens Middle School opened to students in fall 2019.Updated May 20

A St. Helens High School improvement bond measure passed by just 323 votes in Tuesday's election, final election night results show. Measure 5-282 proposed to pump $55 million into safety and security upgrades and building improvements and technology upgrades via a new property tax of .94 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

"We are excited to once again receive the support and confidence from our community to continue to improve the facilities of the St. Helens School District," the district said in a statement Wednesday morning. "St. Helens High School has long needed renovations to upgrade to a 21st century learning institution. We recognize that the bond is an investment in the future of our students and our community. The work that we do on the high school will result in well planned and carefully built spaces that will serve St. Helens students and the community for many years."

The measure is strictly for upgrades to St. Helens High School and expenditures would be monitored by a bond oversight committee.

Prior to the May ballot measure, St. Helens voters approved a $49 million bond for the school district in 2016 that paid for a new middle school and new high school on the former Columbia County Education Center campus. The site was renamed Plymouth High School.

"By keeping a sharp eye on the bottom line the district was able to realize $2 million dollars in savings during the construction of the middle school and CCEC," the school district's bond information site states. "This allows for a high school remodel budget of $5.5 million dollars. Unfortunately, St. Helens High School needs far more than $5.5 million dollars in improvements."

The district said SHHS boilers are 30 to more than 60 years old. The site also needs heating and air conditioning upgrades, along with several security and safety features like fire doors, security doors and security cameras. The $55 million bond would also help modernize some of the school's classrooms to allow for more technology and vocational training, according to the district.

The tax measure has been delayed, and won't hit voters until 2022.

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