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MONROE — The Monroe School Board is considering placing a multi-million dollar construction bond on the ballot this November.

The Monroe School Board held a special meeting Wednesday to discuss various options to add classrooms at Monroe Grade School and do remodels at Monroe High School, including seismic upgrades on the 1928 building.

Russ Pickett, Monroe's superintendent, said the conversations about the bond began in the spring of 2015, when officials realized increasing enrollment and the need for more classrooms to accommodate the introduction of all-day kindergarten would make the grade school very cramped. The board hopes to add a minimum of four classrooms there.

The board worked with Richard Higgins, of BLRB Architects, to discuss how the new classrooms should be configured. Using large printouts of aerial photos of the grade school, the board members and Higgins used laminated squares representing the new classrooms to experiment with configurations. The board expressed interest in creating a layout that would make people coming into the school have to go through the office so that the school is more secure.

The board asked Higgins to come back with some floor plan drawings of a concept they'd discussed for the four classrooms to be added to the back of the school, a concept that included an expansion to the office. The design leaves room for another four classrooms officials would like to build if affordable, which would replace the grade school's existing portable buildings.

Pickett said the district qualifies for up to $4 million in matching grants from the state of Oregon if it passes a bond issue.

"That would give us $8 million if we went with the (maximum amount matched), but I think there is need for considerably more," said Pickett.

Pickett added that the grade school is in consideration for a $1.5 million seismic upgrade grant from the state.

The board members said they wanted an analysis of how much a bond that amount would cost taxpayers per thousands dollars of assessed value, and if it were more than they think the community could support, they might ask for less.

Pickett told the board his next step is to work with a company that helps school districts create bond issues to get estimates of what varying levels of bond funding would cost taxpayers, which he said would be presented at the February board meeting.

Anthony Rimel can be reached at anthony.rimel@lee.net, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

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