Some “philosophical discussions” were responsible for the delay in developing a planned $75 million bond package that could be presented to Canby School District voters in the May primary election.
The district has an approximate dollar figure in mind because the idea would be to extend the current rates that are in place from the bond approved to build Baker Prairie Middle School 15 years ago. Those rates expire at the end of the year.
They also have a lot of data — gathered through surveys and input from consultants, staff and other stakeholders — on what capital projects, maintenance, safety and technology upgrades are most needed at Canby area public schools.
Sorting through all of that data, and putting together a final package that fits the district’s budget and goals for student success, is the responsibility of the Bond Development Committee, a group of about 25 business owners, community members, district staff and administrators who have been meeting on the project since December.
But, as District Communications Coordinator Autumn Foster explained at the school board’s meeting last week, their work has lagged a bit behind the timeline that was originally hammered out.
(“We had planned to do this sooner, but we had to push it back because we had some philosophical discussions in the meetings,” Foster said. “Some of those discussions were around questions like, ‘Do we want to do something longer term?’ ‘Do we want to think bigger?’ or ‘Do we want to take a phased approach to this?'”)
The deadline to approve language and have a measure placed on the primary ballot is Feb. 28. The original timeline had a community input meeting scheduled for Jan. 14, later pushed back to Feb. 3, then postponed again, because the development group did not have a complete bond package to share with the public.
Under the new timeline presented by Foster, the bond committee would finalize their proposed package on Feb. 5, and the community meeting would be set for Feb. 11. Districtwide polling would start the following day, with the goal of gathering further input on the proposed ballot language and bond package.
The final meeting of the Bond Development Committee would be on Feb. 18, at which the group would review the poll results and input from the community meeting, and make changes or adjustments as necessary.
The package would then be finalized and presented to the school board for their vote at a special meeting on Feb. 26 — two days before the deadline. As you can imagine, that’s not a lot of time to review a complicated bond measure and issue a decision, and several board members expressed their concerns.
At the meeting, Board President Angi Dilkes asked Foster why they couldn’t get a look at, at least, a draft version of the bond proposal before the night that their decision is due.
(“There are a lot of people on the board, including me, who really wanted to have time to think it through,” Dilkes said. “It feels to me like there’s got to be a way to get something before the meeting.”)
Although the board could wait until November and still present the bond measure as an “extension” of the current rates, there are some reasons they might favor May. Actually, 4.8 million reasons.
The district has been awarded a state matching grant in that amount that they could collect to do additional facilities upgrades, but only if they pass a bond measure in May. This award will have expired by November, and the district would have to reapply for funding, with no guarantee of receiving it.
In a follow-up email after last week’s meeting, Foster explained that the timeline she presented is still tentative. If the Bond Development Committee is unable to complete its work of finalizing the proposed bond package on Feb. 5, the timeline may change again.