Bend-La Pine Schools bond measure would fund projects

Two new schools, upgrades: Bend High is on top of the to-do list

POSTED: 7:00 PM PDT April 29, 2013    UPDATED: 7:16 PM PDT April 29, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

The May election is now less than a month away, and on the ballot in Central Oregon are several money measures taxpayers will consider. The biggest: Bend-La Pine Schools' $98 million bond measure to build two new schools and complete more than 140 other upgrades at existing ones.

Bend High is the largest school this side of the mountains, but it's also one of the older buildings in the school district.

It's 50 years old, and Principal W.D. Weddel says the building constantly needs repairs to meet the demand of current and future students.

When the school's room was designed 50 years ago, it wasn't designed for today's standards, where nearly 400 students use it.

"One of the troubles with this particular art room is that we have we have five or six rooms put together to make one large art room, and that's not necessarily best for teaching," Weddel said Monday.

"We have one, two, three and another classroom and four classrooms, that all encompass one art room," he said. "And it's just not the best for instruction."

That's inside. Outside needs work, too.

"These are our modules (modular classrooms) that are going to be replaced with permanent structures," Weddel said. "These modules came to us borrowed in the 1970s.

"One of the other things that the bond would do for us at Bend High is that we are going to be able to repaint our building. It's been quite a while since the building has been painted. Obviously, you can see there is a great need for that."

Those needs could be met, if voters approve a bond measure in May.

Just this year, the district added nearly 400 kids to classrooms. And in the next 10 years, it's expecting 3,000 more students to come into the system.

"it's critical that we build structure now," said Andy High, co-chair of the school bond committee. "We have neighborhoods like the one behind us that are growing. Bend's economy is coming back, and that's going to be more families and more young people and students in the area."

Eleven of the district's 14 elementary schools are at or over capacity, and to deal with that, the bond would pay to build one elementary school and one middle school.

And 140 other projects are planned as well -- to improve safety with fire sprinklers and security systems, to renovate classrooms and to increase space for teaching.

"We are a solid school structurally, and have some really great things, but it's needed for some updates, that's for sure," Weddel said.

What would the bond measure cost you? It doesn't add anything to your tax bill if passed.

But if it doesn't get approved, your tax bill would drop about $52 per year on a home assessed at $200,000.