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District Considers Maintenance Bond

DALLAS -- School district officials learned a few lessons after the $79.5 million bond to build a new high school failed by a huge margin last November.

DALLAS -- School district officials learned a few lessons after the $79.5 million bond to build a new high school failed by a huge margin last November.

First, the community didn't want to pay more taxes; and secondly, that district residents, for the most part, understood the district's needed maintenance requirements.

Now, the Dallas School Board believes it has found a solution that addresses both concerns: an $8 million to $8.9 million bond to be placed on the ballot in the November 2009 election.

The bond would provide money for repairs, maintenance and some new construction at existing facilities, and provide extra space at some schools.

"This is sort of a stopgap," Dallas School District Superintendent Christy Perry said. "It will give us a chance to review our enrollment numbers."

The bond proposal includes money for parking lot improvements, roof repairs and replacements, boiler repairs and replacements, energy upgrades and plumbing improvements. Construction would include a new parking lot at Oakdale Heights Elementary School and new restrooms at the Dallas High School stadium.

Purchase and installation of modular classrooms also would be paid for with the bond.

Perry said the district had the poor economic times and recent job loses with Weyerhaeuser's mill closing in March in mind when considering the bond's scope. The proposal will not create a new tax on property owners, but it will add years to repayment on bonds for schools.

Currently, taxpayers in the district are paying for a bond that expires in 2012. The new bond would not raise taxes beyond the current rate of $1.67 per $1,000 of assessed value and payment on it would not start until after the old bond expires.

Both bonds would be paid off in seven years, according to a letter Perry wrote inviting people to a public hearing on the proposal on Monday, Aug. 10.

Perry said the district is not finished looking at space issues. She projects the district will see enrollment levels grow into the future. She added when the board proposed a new high school, it was looking two decades into the future. Although Perry said the district would stretch the bond money as far as it can, it probably won't be enough to meet long-term needs.

"This isn't a 20-year solution," Perry said. "It's a seven-year solution."

The school board is scheduled to conduct a public hearing on the bond proposal at 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 10, at the district office at 111 Ash St., Dallas. Those who can't attend can submit written comments to Perry via e-mail at christy.perry@dallas.k12.or.us or by mail to 111 Ash St., Dallas, OR 97338.

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