The Canby School Board agreed unanimously Wednesday night to place a 20-year, $75 million bond issue before district voters in the upcoming May 2020 primary election.
The vote followed a brief discussion by the board, in which much praise was heaped upon staff and the Community Bond Development Committee, who have put in countless hours over the past three months to ensure the board’s decision could be handled as smoothly and easily as it was.
In and out in under 30 minutes at tonight’s @canbyschools bond meeting. That has to be some kind of a record. A TON of work by district staff and community members over the past few months to make that possible. pic.twitter.com/puOasiegse
The bond proposal is designed to extend, but not raise, tax rates by replacing the current bond payments that built Baker Prairie Middle School 15 years ago. Those payments are set to expire at the end of this year.
This package would be aimed at improving school facilities and addressing deferred maintenance projects, as well as expanding opportunities for hands-on learning and upgrading school safety and security.
Specific projects would include replacing the existing “200 Wing” science classrooms and lab spaces at Canby High School, replacing HVAC systems and repairing school roofs, districtwide ADA improvements, numerous technological upgrades and improvements, and several high-need fire safety projects, including two fire suppression doors at Knight Elementary, and the wiring of an existing set of fire suppression doors at Lee Elementary to the main office’s lock-down system.
Fire safety dominated the brief discussion on Wednesday, with some feeling that the proposed package didn’t go far enough. Dawn Depner, a member of the district’s Board of Directors, said her biggest concern is Carus Elementary School — a rural school located well outside the city on Cascade Highway, but which is served by the Canby School District.
“The one thing that I don’t like about all of this is that Carus doesn’t even have a fire hydrant, and they have no sprinklers,” she said. “That’s a big concern to me. … I did call and had a brief conversation with the fire chief today regarding that, but I do think it’s something that needs to be addressed.”
Director Tom Scott said that while he agrees with some of the concerns on the fire safety front, he believed the board should follow the lead of the Bond Development Committee.
“I think we have a lot of faith in the committee that represented our community, so I would urge us to follow their recommendation,” Director Scott said. “I don’t think we have any reason to doubt their recommendations. The fire safety stuff is important, but they looked at it a lot harder than we have.”
He pointed out that the package also includes an estimated $7.5 million in contingency funds, which may offer opportunities to address other fire safety needs down the road.
“If we find something in the future, we can find some money and move it there, if we decide it’s an important item for the safety of our kids,” Scott said.
Director Depner, who was also an appointed member of the committee along with Director Sara Mangenheimer, agreed.
“I think we spent a lot of time, and it was valuable to have everyone’s opinion,” she said. “I agree: This needs to get done. Our schools need to get updated. Safety is very important. And so, I, too, hope we can continue to look at these fire safety issues, and if they are there, we find the money to fix that.”
If the bond proposal is approved in May, it would also bring an additional $4.7 million from the state’s Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching Program in the form of a grant that was awarded to Canby School District. If the bond fails to pass, the district would have to reapply for these funds, and there’s no guarantee they would receive them again.
If approved, a citizen oversight committee would be established to ensure bond funds are used for the intended purposes laid out in the bond package. The bond funds would mature over a period of 20 years from the date they are issued.
Resolution and ballot language approved by the Canby School Board: