The Canby School District has not yet decided if it will pursue placing a new bond measure before voters in the May or November 2020 elections. Because the current bond is set to expire at the end of next year, the district may ask voters to consider a new package at the same tax rate.
Essentially, this would be an “extension” of the current rate, raising millions to improve the district’s school facilities without raising taxes.
An additional incentive to a May bond proposal would be that, if the district is successful, they would receive an additional $4.8 million in grant funds from the Oregon Office of School Facilities.
This grant award will have expired by November, so the district would have to reapply, and there’s no guarantee they would receive it again.
Recent polling that was conducted by Patinkin Research Strategies indicated positive signs for the community’s interest in many of the items that could be included in the proposed bond package, including safety and technology upgrades.
So, why hasn’t the school board decided to pull the trigger yet? One big hold-up has been that the deadline to be on the ballot for the May primary is Feb. 28, and there’s some concern that that wouldn’t be enough time to conduct the thorough, community-involved process that the board would like to see.
As of last week, that appears to no longer be a problem, according to District Communications Coordinator Autumn Foster.
The district, with the help of their hired consultants, have laid out a plan that allows for a total of seven meetings before the board’s February deadline. Five of these meetings would be for a bond development group to work on the package, and two will be opportunities for the public to weigh in.
The bond development group consists of approximately 25 business owners, community members, district staff and administrators. Their first meeting will be Dec. 4, Foster said.
This will kick off a long series of meetings through December, January and early February, in which the development group, with the help of district staff and the community, refine the final bond package that will be presented to the school board.
They are scheduled to vote on the matter at a special session on Feb. 11. If they vote to move forward, it will initiate two more weeks of public comment and polling.
As Foster explained, the process is set up this way to give the board time to reverse course if the public shows overwhelming opposition to the proposal.
“If we get through the public comment period, and there are 9,000 people who are like, ‘Don’t do this,’ we can look at this again and decide not to file on Feb. 28,” she said. “We still have that option.”