The World Education STOCK

COOS BAY – Voters will see a new facilities bond for the Coos Bay School District on the upcoming November ballot.

The school district recently filed ballot measure 6-166 with the county clerk's office for the amount of $59,995,000. That requested amount from taxpaying voters is lower than the amount on the May ballot, which was for $66.5 million, a bond request that only failed by 32 votes.

The cost went down on this new bond, partially, because of the state matching grant that the district was awarded last month for $4 million on the condition that the bond passes in November.

However, because of inflation costs, the original renovation plans would have cost voters $68 million if approved in the next election. Not wanting to put that much of a burden on the community, the school board cut out improvements to classrooms inside the Millicoma and Sunset middle schools. Holding off on those renovations brought the cost estimate to $63 million, which the board promised they would not exceed in the next bond request.

“We used the $4 million state matching grant, provided the bond passes, to bring down the overall cost of the project,” said district superintendent, Bryan Trendell.

For the new $59,995,000 bond measure, the estimated rate per $1,000 assessed property value is $1.60.

“When we do another campaign, we need more public in the buildings,” said previous BEST Bond Committee Chairwoman Ellen Webster during a June meeting. “We should have building ambassadors, teachers or staff from each of the buildings so they give the tour and tell people what goes on in this building, what they deal with and how it impacts the 500 kids inside. They should list out what the bond is proposing and what it will pay for.”

Not only that, but the committee is looking for ways to better involve district staff as well.

As previously reported by The World, the committee had organized a staff forum during the May election campaign, but only 18 attended.

Not only does the committee hope to designate building ambassadors and more staff involvement, but Martin said not all of the house-to-house mailing containing information about the bond made it to every Coos Bay voter.

During the May election campaign, the district outlined how the money will be spent, starting with the demolition of the Harding Building, but not the gym. In its place will be a 7th and 8th grade building. It will also fund the demolition of Eastside Elementary and construction to build a new elementary school, which will take on students from Blossom Gulch once it is shut down.

“Under state law, a new school cannot be built on the Blossom Gulch site because it is in the tsunami zone,” the district stated in a press release earlier this year.

The bond will allow the district to renovate Madison Elementary, tackling items on the district's architect and engineering building needs assessment. That work includes seismic reinforcement, building security, technology, electrical and data systems, accessibility, and asbestos abatement, to name a few.

The money will pay for additions to Madison Elementary, such as six new classrooms and new library space to eliminate portable classrooms.

“It's easy to say the buildings were fine for me when I went through them, but when you understand all the parts that are not optimal, people empathize with that,” Webster said in a previous interview. “It's a good time to take ownership and pride back into our school community. It's time to be involved with something that takes us forward, not holds us back.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.

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