Voters in the Corvallis School District appear to have approved a $200 million facilities bond by a wide margin.
In updated unofficial results Tuesday, 68 percent of votes cast in the election supported the bond, with nearly 17,000 votes counted.
The bond’s passage allows the district to move forward with projects such as replacing Hoover and Lincoln elementary schools with new buildings on their current sites, adding classrooms to many district elementary schools to eliminate the need for modular classrooms, improving seismic safety at school buildings built before current earthquake standards, adding new secure entrances to schools and upgrading electrical, heating and plumbing systems at most schools.
The bond is predicted to have an average rate of $1.98 per $1,000 of assessed property value over its 20-year life. It will cost the owner of a house with an assessed value of $240,000 about $475 a year, which is an increase of $81 over the districts soon-to-expire bond.
Curtis Wright, chair of the Yes for Better Schools political action committee that advocated for the bond, said he was pleased by the results.
“The community values education and the community cares a lot about its kids,” he said.
Wright said around a hundred people were involved in campaigning for the bond by going door-to-door and tabling at the Corvallis Farmers' Market.
“A lot of folks really put their hearts into making this happen,” he said.
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Wright said the bond’s passage means schools will be safer, no longer need modular classrooms, and have more space for hands-on career and technical education classes.
“I’m really excited for what this means for the students in all the schools,” he said.
Ryan Noss, the district’s superintendent, said he was thankful to the community for passing the bond.
“It’s a community that has consistently supported education,” he said.
Noss said the district’s next steps are to issue the bond debt and form an oversight committee to supervise bond funds. He said the district will also be forming a design committee that will begin conversations with the community about what new school buildings and expansions will look like.
Wright, Noss and a variety of district staff, board members and volunteers with the Yes for Better Schools gathered at American Dream Pizza in downtown Corvallis to watch results come in. Sami Al-Abdrabbuh, a board member, was the first to spot the results online just after ballot boxes officially closed and announced the margin to a hearty cheer from the room.
Shahnaz Sahnow, a literacy coach and reading specialist at Lincoln who attended the gathering, said the bond’s passage means that her students will get to study in a functional building for the first time. And that sends a message to them:
“It tells them they are worth it. It tells them they can spend their lives in spaces like this. They can work in places like this, make their homes in places that are comfortable,” she said.
Sahnow, who was on the facilities planning committee that developed the bond plan and campaigned with Yes for Better Schools in her personal time, said that the bottom line of the bond’s passage was that all students in the district will be safer.
“I am relieved, not only about getting a new Lincoln, but because Corvallis did the right thing and invested in every single student with this bond,” she said.
Anthony Rimel covers education and can be reached at email@example.com, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.