Jefferson County

Culver schools plan new, smaller bond request

Dollar figure to be set next month

Culver schools prep upgrades pitch

CULVER, Ore. - The Culver School District is hoping to update their schools, but first of course, they need money.

The superintendent is now pushing for a bond measure in May.

This wouldn't be the first time the school district has asked for a property tax hike.
In 2011, they proposed a $14.5 million bond, but that was shot down by voters.

This time, Superintendent Stefanie Garber said the district will ask the community for a smaller amount.

But Garber says the schools still need fixing and student safety is at risk.

"This building is actually one of the ones we are discussing quite heavily," Garber said about one of the elementary school's wings. "So as you can see, it's pummy block, no installation, no rebar, and structurally it's absolutely coming apart."

Eleven years ago, when Garber was the elementary school principal, she first learned of the problems facing Culver schools.

"With the seismic events and safety events, especially with the Connecticut incident, everything is coming to the forefront," Garber said. "It just starts layering issues with some of our buildings."

Some of the schools have no major issues.

"So this building was erected in 1963 so it was built very sound," Garber said about the high school. "No reason to knock it down, rather just give a few upgrades and an addition to accommodate more kids -- it's a great building."

Other school buildings, according to Garber, have outlived their useful life for today's students.

"So this is one of our four entrances, and we have four entrances to the high school -- and none of them are visible by the main office," said Garber.

For now, the high school has started locking its doors. And while safety has become a hot topic in schools, so has learning opportunities.

Culver schools also have reached their electrical capacity.

"From the exterior, we look beautiful," Garber said. "We have a great maintenance department. But when you see the interior the systems the HVAC system, the lack of electricity to buildings, it speaks for itself."

Continuing the tour, Garber said, "So this happens to be our boiler room for our 1960 boiler and the second one was added in 1981 and this is the first day out of three that they have worked this week."

Instead, the school had to resort to using space heaters.

So if an earthquake hits, how unstable are the schools? Garber sums it up this way:

"This one ranked highest that it would topple like a deck of cards," she said. "And I don't want that under my watch."

The school district won't have a firm dollar figure for the proposal until next week.

If you would like to tour the buildings, you can call the district to set it up. Contact info is on the district's Web site.

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