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A bond measure is being considered that would pay for replacing the old Annex building on the La Grande Middle School grounds, as well as the adjacent maintenance structure, in order to make room for a new athletic and academic center for the school district.

LA GRANDE — The La Grande School Board is set to make a decision that could have a major impact on the school district’s future.

The board, when it meets at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 12, at Willow School, 1305 N. Willow St., will vote on a resolution that would ask voters to approve a $6 million bond in May for the construction of a new academic and athletic center.

The vote will come late in the meeting after residents have an opportunity to give input on the proposed bond.

The board will make its decision after recently receiving the results of a late 2021 survey conducted by the school district.

“We have had good responses. They have helped us move forward,” said Robin Maille, chair of the La Grande School Board.

Passage of the proposed $6 million bond would not raise the total school taxes paid by property owners because of the recent refinancing of the 20-year $31.5 million bond voters approved in 2014 for capital construction and maintenance, Maille said.

The refinancing of the 2014 bond will drop what taxpayers are now paying from $1.93 to $1.65 per $1,000 of assessed value beginning in July, the same time charges for the $6 million bond levy would kick in. The rate per $1,000 of assessed value for the new bond would be 24 cents.

Money from the bond would pay for the construction of a multi-use academic and athletic center next to the La Grande Middle School, where the Annex building is now. The building would include two gyms and two classrooms that would be used for a variety of classes, including health, science and technology. The building would be a pre-engineered metal structure that would be available for public use and would meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, which the current Annex building does not.

The school district’s aging Annex building, which has a gym and is about 10 feet north of La Grande Middle School, is more than eight decades old. The Annex building and the school district’s adjacent maintenance, facilities and grounds structure — which is at least 100 years old — would both be torn down if a bond is approved. The district’s maintenance, facilities and grounds services would likely be moved to a structure the school would obtain on Adams Avenue.

Time is of the essence for the La Grande School District because in December 2021 it was awarded a $4 million Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching grant from the state for the building of the academic and athletic center. The school district will receive the $4 million grant only if voters approve the $6 million bond. Voters would have to approve the bond in May because this was the election date specified by the school district in its application for the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching grant.

If voters do not approve a bond in the May election, the school district will lose the $4 million OSCIM grant and would then have to go through the application process again.

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General assignment reporter

Beats include the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.

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