Bend-La Pine Schools cheer big bond victory

Voters give resounding 60 perent yes vote

Big victory for Bend La Pine Schools

BEND, Ore. - Bend-La Pine Schools asked voters for $98 million Tuesday night in a bond to pay for two new schools and many other projects.

And that's what they got.

Voters gave the go-ahead with a resounding 62 percent yes vote, according to final numbers released Wednesday morning.

"I think this is another indication this community really does support quality of life," Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Ron Wilkinson said Tuesday night.

Thanks to voters, every school in the Bend-La Pine district will be getting some improvements, thanks to the bond.

"We expected it -- we have a great history in the Bend La Pine School District of community support, and that just continues tonight. We are excited," said school board member Peggy Kinkade.
Two new schools, one middle and one elementary, will be built to address the overcrowding issues and the big enrollment growth affecting classrooms.

Eleven of the district's 14 elementary schools are at or over capacity, and the district says more than half of its classrooms are over 30 years old.

And in the next decade, 3,000 more students are expected to enter into the system.

"We are quite happy," said Wilkinson. "It's been an important campaign for the district, in terms of meeting the needs of growth in the community. The passage allows us to move forward and start doing those projects."

A lot of hard work went into getting the measure passed, noting that replacing expiring bonds would only keep the current property tax rate -- and the resulting support was overwhelming.

"We felt good throughout the whole entire campaign," Wilkinson said. "The support as I spoke to groups all over town was really high at every juncture."

A total of 140 projects will be done at existing schools, from improving safety with fire sprinklers and security systems, to renovating classrooms and increasing space for teaching.

"We really tried to get the message out there about the tax rate not going up, and the necessities of the projects," said Kinkade. "So, we were always very optimistic."

Wilkinson added, "I think this is another indication of this community that tends to step up on those kinds of projects and things that have to do with quality and opportunities for family and students and kids."

Some of the school improvements will begin as early as this summer and be scattered over the next two years as the school district plans them out.

Work will begin right away for the first stages of construction for the two new schools. Conversations already have begun for land acquisition for the elementary school.

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