School Bonds Are Passed: Seven out of ten contests across the state saw voter approval of bonds and levies for schools.
This includes a $450 million bond for Portland Community College and a $250 million bond for the schools in Bend-La Pine.
The modernization of the college’s Rock Creek and Sylvania campuses as well as the expansion of career technical education in Washington County were among the goals of the bond, which PCC president Adrien Bennings noted and thanked voters for supporting in a statement released Tuesday night.
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Portland is still expanding and changing, and PCC is adjusting to meet those requirements, according to Bennings. “Our bond program is devoted to being a prudent steward of community resources and returning to voters and taxpayers a value that much exceeds the investment they have made in us this November,” said the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon.
Steven Cook, the superintendent of Bend-La Pine, declared on Wednesday that he would endeavor to make the community’s schools a point of pride.
In a statement emailed to OPB, Cook said, “We are grateful to our community for demonstrating their commitment to students and public education by supporting this measure, which will upgrade safety and security, modernize classrooms, and provide for crucial maintenance and preservation projects across our district.
The David Douglas schools in Multnomah County and the Forest Grove School District in Washington County will both benefit from additional bonds that were approved by voters.
In addition to protecting entrances at 11 campuses throughout the district, the $140 million David Douglas bond will fund a new “hands-on learning” building at David Douglas High School.
Voters in Umatilla County, in eastern Oregon, seem to be in favor of a $45 million bond for Umatilla schools to undergo school renovations. These renovations will include a new career technical education building at Umatilla High School, renovations at an elementary and middle school, and a new building to accommodate students in grades four through six.
The Umatilla School District projected that the present student population of 1300 would expand by 500 pupils during the ensuing ten years when putting the bond on the ballot. Concerns that Amazon wouldn’t have to finance the bond arose from the expansion, which was partly caused by Amazon facilities and home construction. According to a contract with the city, the business must contribute to the bond.
Heidi Sipe, the Umatilla superintendent, claimed that voters’ “questions and stress” were allayed by information sessions. Sipe thanked voters for their support in helping to pay for the building of a new school, but she pointed out that not all the votes had been counted yet.
Since 2006, we have worked to get this school built on South Hill, so I’m grateful for the chance, said Sipe.
Three out of the ten school-related ballot questions in Oregon look to have failed, including the bonds for the Sheridan School District and the Rogue River School District in Jackson County.
Patrick Lee, the superintendent at Rogue River, claimed that community surveys were the source of the proposed repairs included in the $4 million bond package. The district would have gotten a $4 million matching grant from the state if the bond had been approved. Lee was taken aback when 57% of Jackson County voters rejected the bond, resulting in its failure.
According to Lee, “We believed that would be a very alluring package to our voters.” I’m not sure if the economy or the climate changed significantly, or if there were other variables we weren’t aware of.
The Parkrose School District in eastern Multnomah County’s teacher funding levy likewise seems to be failing. It would have covered the costs of 22 teachers and teaching assistants.
Voters were asked to adopt the tax because the school system anticipated a $3.2 million budget shortfall in the upcoming academic year. Unofficial data show that almost 55% of voters opposed the proposal.
At least two of the three failed initiatives may have been motivated by worries about tax increases. The bond would result in an increase of 8 cents per $1000 of assessed property value in Rogue River.
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District representatives stated that the proposition “may cause property taxes to increase by more than three percent” in the Parkrose explanatory statement that was submitted ahead of the election.
The state’s School Capital Improvement Matching Program was supposed to provide subsidies totaling at least $4 million for each of the district bonds, including the unsuccessful Sheridan and Rogue River initiatives. Those award dollars will be used to compensate other school districts for the failed bonds.
Lee admitted that he was unsure of what would happen next but that he planned to meet with the board to discuss what went wrong.
“Should we repack it? Do we try it one more? There are numerous needs in our district, and if we can repeat the process, there is a rare potential to receive the matching award, he added.
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