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May 17 Primary features school bond request

Check mail this weekend; ballots expected by May 1

Alone as a money question on the May 17 Primary Election ballot is Measure 14-58, a $57.18 million, 20-year facilities bond levy.

Hood River County School District is asking voters to say yes or no to replacing a current bond; passage would mean no increase in the current HRCSD bond tax rate of $1.83 for $1,000 assessed valuation.

That works out to $549 annually for a $300,000 home, and $736 for a $400,000 home.

Also on the ballot: Ballot Measure 14-55, amending the county charter to prohibit large-scale water bottling enterprises and numerous local and state races, and the U.S. Presidential campaign with Republicans John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump along with Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Contested local races include State House Dist. 52, with Walt Trandum of Sandy and Mark Reynolds of Odell running for the Democratic slot, and incumbent Mark Johnson as the lone Republican on the ballot.

Election Day is May 17, but all voters who mail their ballots are urged to do so earlier than usual — May 10, to ensure it gets there in time, according to Hood River County Elections’ Kim Kean.

Ballots must be in the county’s hands by 8 p.m. May 17. That means if you have not mailed them by May 10, they must be delivered to the two drop-boxes, at the County Administration Building, Sixth and State streets, or Cascade Locks City Council. Remember, postmarks don’t count.

“This facilities maintenance and construction bond is vital to the continued responsible operation of our school facilities,” said Rich Truax of the citizen committee supporting the bond measure.

Among the projects the school bonds would pay for:

• Roof replacements at Mid Valley, Westside, and Hood River Valley High School, and critical roof repairs at every other school

• Boiler/HVAC replacements at Parkdale, Westside, Hood River Middle and Hood River Valley High School

• Plumbing system overhauls at Parkdale and Wy’east schools

• Significant electrical repair at Mid Valley, Parkdale, Hood River Middle, Wy’east Middle, and Hood River Valley High School.

• New state-of-the art science, engineering and math lab learning space at Wy’east

• Replacing, equipping and furnishing a new May Street Elementary school at the same location

• Addressing increased enrollment by increasing the number of classrooms at the elementary and middle school levels

• Upgrading school playgrounds at Cascade Locks, Mid Valley and Parkdale

• Increasing student-staff safety and security at every school

• Improving energy efficiency to maximize available general fund dollars in the classroom

• Increasing classroom technology for students across the district

• Repairing athletic fields and track used by students and community members

Trueax answered these questions about the bond campaign and the impact of the measure:

Check mail this weekend; ballots expected by May 1

Alone as a money question on the May 17 Primary Election ballot is Measure 14-58, a $57.18 million, 20-year facilities bond levy.

Hood River County School District is asking voters to say yes or no to replacing a current bond; passage would mean no increase in the current HRCSD bond tax rate of $1.83 for $1,000 assessed valuation.

That works out to $549 annually for a $300,000 home, and $736 for a $400,000 home.

Also on the ballot: Ballot Measure 14-55, amending the county charter to prohibit large-scale water bottling enterprises and numerous local and state races, and the U.S. Presidential campaign with Republicans John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump along with Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Contested local races include State House Dist. 52, with Walt Trandum of Sandy and Mark Reynolds of Odell running for the Democratic slot, and incumbent Mark Johnson as the lone Republican on the ballot.

Election Day is May 17, but all voters who mail their ballots are urged to do so earlier than usual — May 10, to ensure it gets there in time, according to Hood River County Elections’ Kim Kean.

Ballots must be in the county’s hands by 8 p.m. May 17. That means if you have not mailed them by May 10, they must be delivered to the two drop-boxes, at the County Administration Building, Sixth and State streets, or Cascade Locks City Council. Remember, postmarks don’t count.

Trueax answered these questions about the bond campaign and the impact of the measure:

What are the specific efforts the committee is doing, and what is the overall strategy in contacting the community?

The committee is making efforts with numerous forms of communication to the community. These include an informational website, supporthrcschools.net, Facebook, attendance with information handouts at school functions, informational presentations at community group meetings including Lions and Rotary, KIHR Radio talk shows, ads in the Hood River News, a county wide information mailer, and of course our roadside campaign signs, the goal being to reach a significant majority of community members so they are aware and informed of this important school district bond.

What is the central message the committee is trying to get out to voters?

The entirety of this bond will be spent on buildings and facilities infrastructure, including improved campus security, failing roof repair and replacement, new buildings and classrooms, athletic fields, heating systems, bathrooms, and drinking fountains. These are examples of the wide range of necessary projects that this bond will be spent on throughout the school district. A detailed engineering, architecture, and community input effort in 2015 was conducted to develop the list of highest priority projects. If the bond is passed, future public involvement meetings will help shape the larger projects. This type of bond is how schools in Oregon fund our facility infrastructure — there is no other source for this level of funding.

What efforts are being made to reach out to people who are new to the community in, say, the last few years?

Community members with kids at school events had the opportunity to get information from our volunteers and information tables at recent events. The upcoming countywide mailer, Hood River News ads, BiCoastal Media radio advertisements, and KIHR radio talk show events are all hoped to reach a wide range of community members new and old.

What is the response to the suggestion that not replacing the existing bond at this time would allow taxes to go down?

This is our school district’s 150th anniversary. We have a proud history, invested by generations before us, of excellent, well-supported schools that are intertwined with community life here in Hood River County. From excellent classroom instruction to community skate nights, from community education courses for all ages to youth and adult athletics and community-based preschools embedded in our school facilities to fine and performing arts programming ... our school buildings and athletic fields are integral to our community’s quality of life throughout the valley.

With the dismal status of Oregon state school funding, locally supported bonds are how we responsibly maintain the investment of earlier generations in our school district infrastructure. An example of the immediate need is the heating system at Hood River Middle School — currently a temporary rental boiler sits on the front lawn of Hood River Middle School. The replacement of the former near 100-year old boiler at that school is estimated at $4.5 million. An identical boiler of the same age has not yet failed at Parkdale, but can be expected to. A visitor to May Street Elementary on a rainy day is likely to find buckets catching rain water at various locations throughout the building. An investment by past generations has created the Hood River County School District as it now stands; we believe it would be fiscally irresponsible and disrespectful to allow that generational investment to deteriorate by not continuing maintenance, repair, and replacement of the school district infrastructure.

Details:

Supportthrcschools.org

How much resistance or disagreement have you seen so far?

We have received or heard very little resistance so far. We have received comments of appreciation that one bond is being paid off before another is started, and that the new bond is set at the same tax rate so there is not an increase. In addition, people have commented that they appreciate the transparency in what this bond will be spent on; it is all for facilities maintenance, improvements, and construction.



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