The Roseburg School Board unanimously agreed to place a bond levy on the May 2020 ballot during Wednesday’s meeting.
The school district will now start the process of polling voters, starting community discussions and working toward a plan to present to voters.
A grant request, which was dependent on the school district going for a bond levy, will be sent off Thursday. Requests for quotes to marketing and polling firms will also be sent off this week.
Board Chair Joe Garcia noted the district had been perpetually upgrading buildings and it was time to do something drastic.
Cooperative Strategies, a firm that specializes in creating complete financial and demographic planning for education, completed a number of assessments to create a long-range facilities plan. The firm identified nearly $37 million of needed facility repairs and $17.5 million of needed educational adequacy improvements.
“The current portfolio of schools is aging and many facilities will undoubtedly require replacements in the coming decade or two,” according to the recommendations from Cooperative Strategies.
Taxpayers within the boundaries of the school district currently pay 54 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value on a bond that will expire in December 2020. According to rough estimates by Chief Operations Officer Cheryl Northam, a $1.54 tax per $1,000 in assessed property value would equate to a $110 million bond for the district, where a $150 million bond would cost taxpayers approximately $2.10 per $1,000 in assessed property value. Those numbers are rough estimates and could vary based on a number of factors, including bond credit rating, Northam said.
The board will use community input to determine the amount of the bond, as well as the desired upgrades.
No decisions were made regarding what upgrades the bond levy would pay for, although several options were discussed including consolidating the middle schools, building new schools or continuing to repair all the schools within the district.
Garcia said he wanted to make a big move with the bond. “I’m kind of tired of settling for things,” he said.
“It’s about creating that desire and that energy for folk to feel like they’re making a connection with the community through the school system,” Garcia said. “We have to find what is going to unite and rally and inspire the community. I think, if we simply go for $37 million without really doing something to inspire the public and community, I think we’re doing a great disservice and selling ourselves short and selling the community short.”
Garcia said building two middle schools would cost $88 million, while combining them could be just north of $60 million.
The school district has three properties in Roseburg where it could build another school.
“If I had my way, I’d replace them all,” director Micki Hall said about the buildings. “We can’t make them into 21st century schools.”
On average buildings in the district were built in the 1950s.
“I believe it takes a village to raise a child. I think we need as many voters in this community to vote,” director Rodney Cotton said. “I’m a believer if we present to our voters what we need they trust us and they would believe us.”
Superintendent Jared Cordon said he hopes to have the students’ views represented on the long-term facilities plan and as the district moves forward in pursuing the bond.
Charles Lee abstained from the vote, but was present for the discussion.