It’s official — a $4 million bond for major building upgrades in the Union School District will be on the ballot for the Nov. 5 election.
All legal requirements for getting the bond levy on the ballot have been met, according to Union County Clerk Robin Church.
The Union School Board passed a resolution on Aug. 14 authorizing the school district to file for the measure with the Union County Clerk’s office. The district filed the next day, and the clerk’s office made sure the filing met constitutional requirements. It was then submitted to the Union County District Attorney’s office, which drafted a ballot title for the measure. The ballot title was then published in The Observer and placed on Union County’s website.
The public had seven days to file an objection to the proposed levy after the ballot title was published in late August. No objections were filed, which means the measure, assigned the number 31-98, will be placed on the Nov. 5 ballot.
The ballot title contains the caption that will appear on the ballot and summary information including what the bond would pay for. Projects Measure 31-98 would cover:
• Safety improvements at all schools, including secure entries and key card systems to better control access
• Energy efficiency improvements at all schools, including upgrading the heating and ventilation systems
• Improvements to accommodate grades seven through 12 at Union High School
• Improvements to the district gymnasium and athletic complex
Improvement to the district’s S.E. Miller and J.F. Hutchinson grade school buildings to accommodate students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
The ballot title’s summary states the estimated average tax rate would be $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed property value. This means that the owner of a $100,000 house in the school district would pay about $110 more a year in property taxes. The bond would be paid for over a period not to exceed 21 years, according to the summary.
The upgrades the bond would cover are needed primarily because of the age of the Union School District’s buildings. The high school was built in 1912 and the Hutchinson building in the late 1920s or early 1930s. In the 1950s, the S.E. Miller building and the high school gym were constructed.
Union School District Superintendent Carter Wells said many people in the community understand the need for improvements.
“There is a lot of excitement about (the bond),” Wells said.
The superintendent said this was apparent during an open house last week at which he talked to many parents about the bond.
The bond levy, if approved, would provide the school district a two for the price of one opportunity. The school district was recently awarded a grant from the Oregon School Capital Improvement matching program that will provide a dollar for dollar match of up to $4 million for the Union School District bond, should voters approve it. This means if voters pass the $4 million bond levy, the school district will receive a total of $8 million for construction. The catch is that the offer of the matching grant is good only through the November election. Should the bond be rejected by voters, Wells said, the matching grant would no longer be available to the Union School District although it could reapply for it.
Wells said anyone interested in helping the school district get the world out in the community about the bond election should attend Wednesday’s meeting of the Union School Board. At the end of the meeting, the board will begin organizing a group, which will include community members, that informs people about the bond levy.
Wednesday’s school board meeting will start at 6 p.m. at the high school athletic complex.