Bend-La Pine Schools eye record $268 million bond measure

Enrollment growth fuels need for new schools, more

Bend-La Pine Schools seek bond measure

BEND, Ore. - With a student population at new heights, Bend-La Pine Schools staff proposed a record-size bond measure to the school board Tuesday night. At nearly $270 million, that's the biggest request the district has ever made. 

The money would go toward new schools, more technology, needed maintenance, safety measures and expansion and upgrades of existing schools.

They're proposing the projects to meet the needs of a constantly growing community of Central Oregonians. 

More than half of the district’s elementary schools and all of its high schools in Bend are near or over capacity. Between 2000 and 2016, district enrollment grew by more than 5,000 students.

Brad Henry, chief operations and financial officer, told the board, "Beginning next fall, we'll be well over capacity. We're in the discussions of how are we going to meet those needs -- is it short term, is it other ideas? And so we're well down that path."

The proposed projects include a new elementary school for more than $33 million and a new high school for $129 million.

"By the time we get to 2022, that high school could be at 1,400 students already. That's the demand we're seeing in the next short term,” Henry said. 

Since older school bonds will be retired in coming years, that keeps a new bond measure from costing as much.

The current property tax estimate for the bond proposal is 44 cents per $1,000 of property value, or about $130 for the owner of a $300,000 home

If all goes as planned, voters would have the final say next May.

The new high school would be in southeast Bend, near R.E. Jewell Elementary. It would open as soon as fall 2021. 

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