Why is Cascade School District asking voters to approve a bond measure?

 

It has been 15 years since the passage of the last bond in our district and in that time the number of students in our classrooms has increased, safety and security concerns have changed, and basic systems like electrical, heating, plumbing and roofs are aging and do not function as designed in some schools. 

Cascade School District strives to maintain schools that are safe, secure and welcoming for our students. Despite our efforts, all of our district schools were built at least 50 years ago and some are well over 100 years old. Schools require occasional large maintenance projects that exceed the operating budget and are above and beyond regular maintenance work. This bond would address projects such as roof replacements, seismic upgrades and safety/security upgrades to protect the community’s investment in our schools

What does a bond measure fund?

 

A bond measure is like a home mortgage with principal and interest to be paid off over a set period of time. The State of Oregon does not provide funding to school districts for school construction, building improvements and preservation of facilities. School districts in Oregon use bonds to finance these capital expenses and large maintenance projects.

How much will this bond affect me as a taxpayer?

 

Homeowners in Cascade School District are currently paying $1.21 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value (which differs from real market value). If the proposed bond measure passes, taxpayers would see an increase of $0.92 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value. If the proposed measure passes, it is estimated that taxpayers in the Cascade School District would pay $2.13 per $1,000 of assessed value for 25 years beginning July 1, 2021. If the proposed measure passes, taxpayers in the Cascade School District would pay an average of $389.79 per year or $32.48 per month on a home with an assessed value of $183,000 (based on average assessed value from
Marion County Assessor).


If the proposed measure does not pass, taxpayers would continue to pay the current rate of $1.21 per $1,000 of assessed value until the current bond sunsets in 2026.


Why should I continue to pay for schools if I don’t have any kids in school?

 

If you’ve had kids in school or were a public school student yourself, people before you paid for the schools you and/or your child(ren) attended. Similarly, the current residents of the Cascade School District help pay for the schools we have now and those we build and improve in the future throughout the time they live here. As new residents move into the district’s attendance area, they assume these taxes as well. Regardless of where you live in Oregon, you will be paying for the schools in that area.

Strong schools increase property values and safe schools help ensure safe neighborhoods. Our students are our future workforce, homeowners and taxpayers. Their education prepares them for that next step into adulthood, and the stronger their foundation the better their outcomes.
 


How did the district come up with a $56.3 million proposed bond measure?

 

The district continually reviews every school facility and has a long-range facilities' plan to maintain and preserve the life of the district’s facilities. CSD’s Facility Needs Committee, a volunteer group of parents, citizens, and district staff, has been meeting since 2018 to gather and review data, investigate options and make recommendations to the CSD Board of Directors. This proposed bond package has been developed alongside professional architectural firms and industry experts to ensure a comprehensive package with accurate cost estimates.

 


Is overcrowding an issue in Cascade School District schools?

 

The district’s five-year enrollment projections show that every school in the district will be over capacity by 2025. The proposed bond measure would build additional classrooms, expand schools, and renovate existing facilities throughout the district to increase student capacity. 

 


If our schools are overcrowded why does the district allow so many transfer students?

 

It’s no secret that the communities of Turner, Aumsville, Marion, and Cloverdale are desirable places to live and raise a family. Our enrollment growth primarily stems from the growth of our communities but we do recognize that the district allows transfers due to the district’s and schools’ positive reputation in the region. Regardless of where our students reside, CSD aims to provide a quality educational experience for every student.

 


Does the state provide funding for school construction bonds?

 

No. The Oregon Department of Education does not provide funding for school construction or major renovation. It does, however, provide the dollars that we utilize to deliver instruction to students and operate.

 

Oregon’s school funding model is somewhat unique. The legislature allocates dollars each year for teaching and learning, but construction of new schools and the modernization and preservation of existing schools is the responsibility of the local community. Funds for capital construction can be raised through elections and the support of community members for local tax levies.

 

Oregon is one of the few states in the nation that does not provide direct funding support from the state for building schools or major capital renovations. School districts are expected to finance these projects with general obligation bonds (construction bonds) authorized by the district’s local voters.

 

Can construction bond dollars be used to hire more teachers and staff?

 

Oregon law mandates that bond money cannot be used for salaries or other daily operating expenses. These dollars can only be used for capital construction.

 

How did the district get the figures for cost? What will you do if the prices go up?

 

The district worked with Piper Sandler to analyze bond costs to district taxpayers. The estimates prepared include all project costs: construction costs, development costs, bond sale, design fees, permitting, and design and construction contingencies. The estimates also include a cushion of 1.5 percentage points over current interest rates to account for possible interest rate increases. If interest rates are substantially higher when the bonds are sold, the District would have the option to sell less than the total authorization at that time to keep the projected levy rate near the estimate provided in the ballot title. The balance of the authorization could be sold in the future, it does not expire.

How long is this meant to accommodate growth? Five years? 10 years?


The DLR architect firm did the growth projections. These facilities are meant to get us through the next 5-10 years based on a very aggressive 6% yearly student increase. We don’t typically see that kind of increase in the student population. We went back over the last five years and throughout the district, that 6% is an anomaly. On average, growth is between 1% and 2%. We anticipate that this bond will get us through the next 15-20 years.
 

What is your plan if this bond doesn’t pass?


If the Bond does not pass, the safety and security, new classrooms and repair and renovation projects outlined in this guide would not be completed. The district will review deferred maintenance projects and prioritize which projects could possibly be completed from general fund allocations. Large capital building expenditures will likely be postponed altogether.

Is there an impact study for the cost of the proposed school bonds?


The district worked with an independent, third party financial advisor to assess bond costs to district taxpayers. If the proposed bond measure passes, it would increase current property taxes by approximately $0.92 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value. The current bond rate is $1.21 per $1,000 assessed value. If the proposed measure passes, that rate would increase to approximately $2.13 per $1000. 

To determine the amount you, your business, or farm would pay towards this bond, divide the taxable assessed value of your property by 1000 then multiply the result by 2.13. For example, if the proposed measure passes, a taxpayer in the Cascade School District with a home with a taxable assessed value of $183,000 would pay an average of $389.79 per year or $32.48 per month (based on average assessed value from Marion County Assessor). It’s important to note that taxable assessed value is different from real market value.

As our communities grow, the rate per thousand could potentially decrease as the bond measure is spread amongst more taxpayers. For instance, the current bond that passed in 2005 at approximately at $1.90 per $1,000 is now down to approximately $1.21 per thousand, which is largely in part due to an increase in taxable properties in our community.