A bond issue is used by a public school district to finance school facility projects or other capital projects. Measures are placed on the ballot along with information about the specific projects that would be completed by the district if approved by the voting public.
If passed, the bond would invest $158 million in Oregon City schools plus up to $8 million in matching grants from the state.
The bond would cost an estimated 10 cents more per $1,000 of assessed value over the current rate, bringing the total to $1.24. For example, owners of a home assessed at $300,000 could expect to pay $30 more per year or $2.50 more per month.
The average age of our elementary and middle schools is 61 years old and two schools are 80 years old. This means their electrical, heating, and cooling systems are inefficient, out-of-date and in some cases so old the district cannot find replacement parts.
An independent contractor completed a 950 page facilities analysis that identified needs in our 12 school buildings. Our two middle schools, built in 1958 and 1965 have been identified for replacement or significant remodeling. Additionally, every school across the district faces various safety and security concerns. Beyond replacing Gardiner Middle School and upgrading Ogden Middle School, this bond would address safety and security improvements at every school across the district.
The number one priority of the bond would be increased safety and security at each elementary, middle, and high school. This would include entrance security systems, emergency communication systems, lockdown buttons, internal classroom door locks, fencing, and traffic flow safety improvements.
An estimated $18.8M would be invested in safety and security improvements for all our schools.
An estimated $131.3M would be invested in middle school expansion and improved safety and security through the replacement of Gardiner Middle School and the renovation of Ogden Middle School.
An estimated $7.9M would be invested in district wide updates for schools & expanding career and technical education (CTE) opportunities.
Oregon City School District annually spends $124 million on education; the largest portion of the general fund revenue comes from the Oregon Department of Education. The District uses these operating funds to pay for teachers, classroom support, technology, and education programs.
In Oregon, it’s up to each local community to invest their resources, via a local capital improvement bond, to update and build schools. This is why school facilities and conditions vary widely from one community to the next.
By law, General Obligation Bond funds can only be used for the capital projects outlined in the ballot explanatory statement. These funds cannot be used for items such as PERS, salaries, or other employee expenses, nor can they be used for routine maintenance or supplies.
School safety and security needs are different today then when our schools were initially built, on average, more than 60 years ago. The district wants to address safety and security at every school across the district.
In addition, the district seeks to build a new Gardiner Middle School and renovate Ogden Middle School, given middle schools now serving 140 percent more students than their original capacity.
Lastly the district seeks to make various classroom updates to address heating, lighting, and ventilation needs, and expansion of career and technical education (CTE) facilities.
The State of Our Schools and Facilities
- Jennings Lodge Elementary: 1938
- Beavercreek Elementary: 1948
- Redland Elementary: 1948
- Gaffney Lane Elementary: 1965
- Holcomb Elementary: 1966
- Candy Lane Elementary: 1969
- John McLoughlin Elementary: 1975
- Gardiner Middle School: 1954
- Ogden Middle School: 1965
- Jackson Campus (Clackamas Academy of Industrial Sciences): 1938
- Oregon City High School: 2003
- King Campus (Oregon City Service Learning Academy): 1959
In 2016 the school board formed a Long-Range Facility Advisory Committee to create a comprehensive analysis of our schools and facilities. The full 950-page report can be found online, along with the executive summary. The report concluded that while our schools were built between 1938-1975 (with exception of the high school built in 2000), the district had done a good job maintaining the buildings.
The district does not have any schools or facilities not in use.
The transportation project was nearly nine years in the making. The previous facility, a former elementary school built in 1936, lacked the space for secure and safe bus storage, maintenance, and employee parking. The sale of that property and 70 percent reimbursement for transportation improvements from the State of Oregon made this development possible without the use of general fund dollars for 5-7 years. This facility has significantly improved operational efficiencies for both transportation and facility services. Learn more and see the timeline at OCSD62.org.
How Schools Affect the Local Community
Large-scale construction projects similar to those in this bond proposal can have many positive impacts on the local economy. A typical new school construction project will employ thousands of people during the design and construction phases.
Additional indirect benefits to the economy can come from increased patronage to local restaurants, stores and service providers. School construction projects also provide fee revenue for the city as well as systems development revenue for use by local jurisdictions to make necessary improvements to community-wide resources such as roads and utilities.
According to a 2013 realtor.com survey, nearly 91 percent of prospective home buyers said that school boundaries were important in their search. Additionally realtor.com reports that, “Consumers have shown a willingness to sacrifice certain things to live in the right school district. Having safe, welcoming, and high quality schools is a major factor to determine the vitality and desirability of a community. The more people who want to live and raise their families in the area, the higher the demand and existing market values.”
Communities with good schools can impact home values, encourage people to stay and invest in the local area, and can supply the local economy with better skilled workers. Additionally, good schools can improve community pride, connections, and a sense of belonging.
A community with good schools can positively affect home values, area pride, business attractiveness and help shape the future workforce. Students can go on to be skilled workers and engaged citizens that contribute to the local economy and community in various ways.
School facilities provide community organizations gathering spaces for sporting activities and various events. Our schools have been rented on various occasions for backdrops in feature film and television. Additionally, our facilities are used by the Community Education department to run after school programs and classes for students and adults.
Costs, Finances, Matching Funds and Transparency
Area growth, increased home values and bond refinancing all contributed to a lower than approved rate, saving taxpayers more than $6.3 million.
Among 25 school districts in the Portland Metro area, Oregon City’s tax rate is one of the lowest, fifth from the bottom. If the bond is approved, Oregon City’s tax rate would still be on the low end, likely in the seventh lowest spot.
The new bond rate would be ten cents more than the current $1.14 per thousand dollars of a home’s assessed value our community paid last year. For a home assessed at $300,000, the added cost would be $2.50 per month, a total of $30 per year.
Similar to the 2000 bond rate decreasing from $2 down to $1.14 over time, it is possible that the bond could change. Housing construction, area growth/decline, and home values could all contribute to changing the rate per thousand of assessed value.
The property tax rate to pay off the bonds is currently calculated using estimates of assessed value and estimates of actual interest rates when the bonds are sold. Currently, we are planning to sell the bonds in early December, when the interest rates and bond payments will be locked in. Therefore the first actual rate will start in property taxes due and payable in November 2019. The Clackamas County Assessor will calculate the actual property tax rate needed to make the first year's payment on the bonds if the bond measure passes on November 6, 2018. The first year and every subsequent year after that the Assessor will make that actual rate calculation based on the actual assessed property values of Oregon City School District and the bond payments that are due in that particular year. If the current estimates for assessed value and bond payments vary each year from the actual numbers, then the rate could stay the same, decrease or increase.
Statewide, the Oregon Lottery funds about five percent of school operating expenses. Over the years, voters have chosen to use lottery dollars for many purposes besides schools, including parks and recreation, economic development, and watershed enhancement.
Last year, Oregon’s marijuana tax brought the State School Fund $34 million, 40 percent of the proceeds, to support 197 districts. The remaining 60 percent funds alcohol and drug treatment, cities and counties, the Oregon State Police, and the Oregon Health Authority.
For 25 consecutive years, Oregon City School District has been honored for excellence in financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association. Beyond demonstrating the highest quality of accounting, this strengthens the district’s reputation and provides the best options for bond and borrowing rates. Copies of the district’s annual financial audit are available to the public on request to the District Office.
Planning, the Future and Community Oversight
Bond planning began in 2016 after the successful analysis of the district’s 950-page facility needs review. Next the district held public meetings at all elementary and middle schools, inviting community members to share their ideas and priorities for the future of their neighborhood schools. In early 2018 a task force of 30 community leaders came together to review options and help finalize the path the district should take for the future of our facilities.
Students, parents, staff and the community were invited to these various meetings and their input was invaluable to charting the path and future of our schools. Beyond our community meetings, smaller focus groups took place with staff, parents, and community members to gather feedback and input. Additionally, for over a year we’ve gathered public comments via social media, and our district and bond websites.
In planning the bond, the district took into account the new steel tariffs and used cost estimates aligned with construction industry standards. The district is committed to addressing every project identified in the bond proposal. If the bond is approved by voters, the state will provide an additional $3.7 to $8 million in grant funds that ensure project needs can be met.
The School Board will appoint a long-term Citizens Bond Oversight Committee to review bond expenditures and ensure that bond projects are implemented as voters intended.
The district has a facilities maintenance plan that provides guidelines and maintenance schedules for our 12 schools. Our district maintenance team has a strong track record in keeping buildings in working order to serve the needs of our students.
No. The stadium update was funded by 13 years of facility rental fees from outside groups and advertising revenue from the new electronic scoreboard. Read the full article published by Pamplin.
For the past several decades the district has commissioned annual demographic and enrollment projections. Ten year enrollment projections are included in our report produced by the Population Research Center at Portland State University (PDF).
The Success of Oregon City Public Schools
For the last two years the Oregon City High School’s graduation rate has been over 90 percent. The state graduation rate is currently at 74 percent.
High school students in the Oregon City School District have three choices for their high school education.
- Oregon City High School (OCHS) provides students a large campus with a rich set of class and elective offerings, partnerships with Clackamas Community College.
- Oregon City Service Learning Academy (OCSLA) offers students a small-school feel with additional supports and service-based learning opportunities.
- The Clackamas Academy of Industrial Sciences (CAIS) provides career-relevant learning, industry exposure, internships and partnerships with Clackamas Community College.
Oregon City is known for its K-3 Read Well curriculum, which adjusts to the needs of each student and builds a foundation for sustained reading success. Multi-sensory activities and games engage students. The program has produced dramatic success in our elementary schools, raising test scores and preparing students for academic success throughout their academic career.
Advancement Via Individual Determination [AVID] is a high school and college readiness program at Gardiner and Ogden Middle Schools and at Oregon City High School. The program is focused on organization, writing, inquiry, collaboration, and problem-solving. Students who participated in the program at the middle school level have found success in their high school studies.
Each taxpayer will have to make their own decision about whether they feel investing in their school facilities is a good investment. Based on the District’s long track record of fiscal responsibility and conservative management our borrowing rates are low. Each year the district invites the community to multiple budget meetings to review and understand exactly how the district manages resources and operations.
The History of Oregon City School Bonds, School Closures and Boundary Adjustments
Years and years of decreased state funding and reduced enrollment have forced many districts, including Oregon City, to close smaller schools, due to their proportionally higher cost of operation.
The Mt. Pleasant school was sold to Oregon City and will be the future home of the Oregon City Police Department. The Park Place school is still owned by the district and leased by Alliance Charter Academy. The King school is owned by the district and is the home of the Oregon City Service Learning Academy high school.
The 2000 bond was passed to build the Oregon City High School on Beavercreek Road, and to improve seismic safety standards at our school facilities. The new high school made it possible to have all four grades together on one campus and created a transformational learning space for our students.
Oregon City School District has only one bond in the last 40 years. The previous bond before 2000 was passed in 1976. Our schools were built and funded by the investments of previous generations. On average our schools are more than 60 years old, with two that are 80 years old this year.
Years ago our middle schools served students in 7th and 8th grades. When facing large operating budget cuts the district closed smaller elementary schools and moved 6th grade students to the middle schools. These adjustments lowered operating costs across the district, saved on modular classroom construction needs and provided space at our elementary schools for full-day kindergarten classes.