March 8, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Citizens committee recommends school bond to upgrade school buildings, increase safety, and update technology
Board to vote on putting a school bond on the November ballot
A citizens committee made up of business leaders, community members, parents, students, and staff has recommended the Gresham-Barlow School District place a $210 million school bond measure on the ballot.
The district’s Bond Measure Planning Committee presented its recommendation to the school board at the board’s March 7 meeting. The committee met over 10 weeks to review individual school needs and community input on the proposed projects. Eleven community forums were held in all corners of the school district to allow the community to weigh in on the school bond proposal.
“We believe the school bond package will positively impact student success,” said Scott Hansen, a Gresham business leader and community member.
In the proposed school bond package, schools would receive safety and security improvements as well as additional capacity to handle increasing enrollment. Projects include replacing roofs and upgrading electrical and plumbing systems. The plan also includes updating the district’s technology infrastructure and technology used by students and staff.
School improvements in the package would also allow the district to update its career technical education program and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classes to help prepare students for careers and college.
The school bond package includes fully updating Gresham High School, which is close to 100 years old. The plan includes repurposing West Gresham Elementary School for other programs. West Gresham students would be moved to neighboring schools. The bond package also includes renovating Deep Creek Elementary School into a K-8 school and closing Damascus Middle School.
The $210 million school bond would increase the district’s school bond rate to $2.50 per $1000. For a property assessed at $200,000 this represents an increase of approximately $23 a month.
“We recognize that our community is still struggling with the effects of this recession, but we have an opportunity —historically low interest rates and low construction costs—to ask our community to make this investment in our schools,” said School Board Vice Chair Matt O’Connell. “A school bond could also boost Gresham’s economy by generating construction jobs.”
In its recommendation, the Bond Measure Planning Committee encouraged the school board to place the $210 million school bond package on the May 2013 ballot. At the board meeting, school board members discussed placing the measure on the November ballot instead so the school district has ample time to explain to the public the rationale behind the proposed projects.
At Thursday night’s meeting the school board voted to direct district staff to create bond ballot measure language and an explanatory statement. The school board is expected to take action on the school bond measure proposal at its April 4 meeting.
The district has posted the Bond Measure Planning Committee’s recommendation on its website at www.gresham.k12.or.us.