The Clatskanie School District will seek voter approval of a $10 million general obligation bond measure to conduct renovations to Clatskanie Middle/High school and at Clatskanie Elementary School.
The funding issue will be on the May 18 election ballot.
If the bonds are approved, they will be payable from taxes on property or property ownership that are not subject to the limits of sections 11 and 11b, Article XI of the Oregon Constitution, according to the ballot measure statement. The measure also reads that the Clatskanie School District has been awarded a $4,000,000 state grant, which will be available only if the bonds are approved.
What the funding will pay for:
•Renovating and constructing Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS) to separate middle and high school spaces
•Upgrading Clatskanie Middle/High School auditorium to industry standards for school and community use
•Safety and security improvements, including controlled entry, at Clatskanie Elementary School (CES) and Clatskanie Middle/High School
•Renovating, furnishing, replacing, improving, remodeling district facilities, including plumbing, electrical, HVAC, roofing, internal/ external finishes, and parking/ driveway areas
•Pay bond issuance costs
In the following conversation with The Chief, Clatskanie School Superintendent Cathy Hurowitz gives insight into this funding measure.
The Chief: What is your overall vision that the $10 million in school building renovations would do for students' ability to learn, and teachers and school staff ability to teach, and the districts efforts for safety?
Hurowitz: The overall vision is to physically separate the middle school students from the high school students without building an additional facility. We are also focused on the safety and security of our buildings. The vision includes a redesign of the front entry ways of both CMHS and CES to provide a line of sight for anyone entering our buildings and a security system.
We want to bring our CMHS auditorium up to current standards so that it can be better used by our schools and community. We have aging HVAC systems that need to be replaced and our buildings need new roofs.
The Chief: Could you give us the financial breakdown of the specific areas where the $10 million would be spent and why those areas?
Hurowitz: I have included a slide. The slide does not include the $4 million in matching funds and only lists the priorities.
The Chief: You discussed the need for additional security at the schools following the threat incidents at the middle/high school and at the elementary school last year. Specifically, what security is needed and where?
Hurowitz: See Question 1. We also need security at our bus garage as our busses have been vandalized.
We will redesign the schools entrances for line of sight and install a security system. Right now anyone can enter the buildings and reception staff is not able to see who is coming in until they are physically in the building. We need to have a system where we can see who is coming in as well as be able to go into immediate lockdown of all doors.
The Chief: How is the district working to inform voters of the need for the successful passage of this bond in May? Community meetings planned, when, where?
Hurowitz: Once we get through our 7 day waiting period we will schedule community meetings to share Bond information and answer questions. We will also put out FAQ sheets and use social media to share information.
The Chief: Would the district website/Facebook have an area dedicated to patrons' questions and the administrators' answers about the bond to help in community education?
Hurowitz: Yes, because of the limitations of the pandemic that discourages live large meetings we will use FB, our websites, and ZOOM to answer questions and inform our community.
The Chief: What is the current estimated student population and is that up or down over the past few years?
Hurowitz: Right now we are at 648 which is down around 70 students, however, in the last month we have see our numbers increasing. We typically have approximately 720 students. Decreasing enrollment is a statewide issue during the pandemic. I believe many of our students will return as school becomes more “normalized” for lack of a better word.
The Chief: What is the current estimated teacher and staff population, and will this bond allow hiring more teachers and staff? If so, what teachers/staff would be needed?
Hurowitz: We cannot hire staff with the bond funds. In order to hire additional staff we would need an operation levy, which we are not asking for as that would mean additional taxes.
The Chief: What is the current operating budget for the Clatskanie School District is that up or down (how much) compared to the past few years and why?
Hurowitz: $9,496,060 Is our current general fund operating budget with approximately 85% going to salaries, benefits, PERS. During the last biennium the State School Fund was increased and we were able to maintain our current levels of service and staff.
The Chief: If the bond is approved, where and when would we see the renovations begin and would they be done in phases so as not to disrupt class time?
Hurowitz: If approved, we will be able to begin work in June.
The Chief: If the bond is not approved, what would be the next step(s) by the district?
Hurowitz: This is a difficult question. We do everything in our power to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money and serve our community. If the bond fails we would not be able to completely separate the middle school students from the high school students. We will concentrate our facility and maintenance budgets on the most needed repairs to keep the buildings functional.
For more information, visit the Clatskanie School District's webpage.