|BOND REFLECTS LONG COMMITTEE EFFORT|
|October 22, 2000 11:00 pm|
Proponents of the District 17-C school bond have worked hard during the past 17 months to convince voters they have the best plan to improve and expand Brookings-Harbor schools.
Theyve attempted to address concerns expressed by citizens in the past. And the school board has reduced the bond amount from $25 million to $14 million.
But is it enough?
The answer will come on Nov. 7, when voters decide the school bonds fate for the second time.
Voters overwhelmingly rejected a similar bond, one for $25 million, in 1998.
Its a matter of outnumbering the anti-bond people through the democratic process, said Larry Anderson, co-chairman of Schools Designed for Learning Committee.
Voter apathy also poses a threat to the bonds approval, Anderson said.
The committee checked Curry County voter registration rolls several weeks ago and compared the names with those of parents on the school districts student-parent list, he said.
What they found was discouraging. Approximately 522 parents at the districts schools had not yet registered.
The committee has since registered about 170 people, he said.
Apathy is definitely a threat to the bond, Anderson said.
Anderson led the opposition against the 1998 bond attempt. In fact, many of the current committee members voted against the last bond.
This time, committee members say the current bond is the most conservative and sound of any that have been put before the voters.
But that hasnt stopped several residents from voicing their concern at meetings about the property tax increase that would result from the bonds passage.
The current bond is expected to cost about $1.10 per $1,000 assessed property value over a 20-year period. Owners of a property assessed at $100,000 would pay an extra $109 in taxes per year.
Anderson wanted to assure voters that the money would be well spent.
We want to make it clear that the committee and the school board have listened to the residents of this town, he said.
In the end, the committee developed, and the school board approved a bond that, if approved, would provide:
A total of 17 more classrooms.
A new cafeteria/multipurpose room at each school.
A new kitchen at the high school that would serve all district campuses.
More rain protected common areas for students.
New restrooms and connecting hallways at the schools.
A small gym at Kalmiopsis Elementary School.
The proposed projects were based on a 1.5 percent student growth rate over the next 20 years, Anderson said. That is just enough to accommodate the existing school population (1,871) and a small amount of growth, he said.
The committee looked into the possibility of building vertically on existing school property or buying additional property, but both options were too costly, he said.
Were doing what the voters said we should do: Were making due with the real estate we have, Anderson said. The voters pocketbook was kept in mind.
Even so, questions remain.
Some of those questions were asked of Anderson, other committee members and school district officials at a public forum on Wednesday.
Those questions include:
Why does the money have to come from property taxes?
Because there is no state sales tax and the federal government and the state wont give us the money, said committee co-chairman Bill Ferry.
The school district currently receives about $4,500 per student from the state, but that money is not enough to provide for capital expenses such as new construction, Ferry said.
What about lottery funds?
Lottery funds dont come anywhere close to the amount of money we need to build classrooms and schools, said Prevenas. Lottery money was never intended for that.
The district used the approximately $500,000 in lottery funds it received in recent years to do some deferred maintenance work that would have been paid for if the 1998 bond had passed, Prevenas said.
Why does the bond include $882,825 in contingency funds?
For ups and downs in cost estimates, Anderson said.
Why is approximate $2 million set aside for indirect construction costs?
To pay for such costs as building permits, a construction management company ($416,000), geotechnical studies ($60,000), and bid advertisements ($6,000).
These dollar amounts are accountable by the district, Anderson said. This money will be used for what we said it will be. Theres too many eyes in this town.
Does the bond include money for deferred maintenance on the existing facilities?
About $1 million of the bond money will be used to get the deferred maintenance program going, said School Board Member Tom Davis.
The district hopes to receive additional money in the future to ensure other high-priority capital improvements are done, Davis said.
Altogether, about 90 percent of the bond money will pay for new construction and about 10 percent will go toward maintenance and fees, he said.
What will be done with any bond money left over?
It could be used for other construction projects and maintenance not included in the current bond, Anderson said.
Prevenas said any remaining money will be kept separate from the regular budget, but included in the same process.
What about sharing with other facilities such as Southwest Oregon Community College?
We already share some facilities with the college and other groups, Ferry said. But the college wants to build its own building.
The school bond committee is still seeking money donations from the community to help promote the bond in the weeks leading up to election day.
Donations can be mailed to the the Schools Designed for Learning Bond Committee at P.O. Box 8006, Brookings, OR, 97415.