Baker school bond

Baker High School would be remodeled to accommodate seventh- and eighth-graders if voters approve a bond measure in May 2020.

Representatives of an 11-person advisory committee presented to the Baker School Board Monday their scaled-back recommendations for remodeling Baker High School to accommodate seventh- and eighth-graders and making other improvements to the school district’s buildings.

The committee recommended the District ask voters, probably in the May 2020 election, to approve a $7.5 million bond measure to address overcrowding at the middle school and elementary schools, and improve safety and security at all Baker schools.

The project budget would include $3 million from the Student Success Act fund allocated to schools by the Oregon Legislature, and another $2 million from the District’s capital projects fund.

The District also has received a matching $4 million OSCIM (Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching Program) that will be available if the bond measure passes. That would put the total project at about $16.5 million.

The Board is scheduled to discuss the committee’s recommendation and to hear public comment Nov. 21.

The proposed bond measure is much smaller than the $48 million proposal district voters soundly rejected in November 2018.

Committee member Martin Arritola, who led the Board through a slide presentation of the recommendations Monday, said the group agreed to recommend the Board ask voters to approve a 10-year bond, that would include $1.4 million interest.

The $7.5 million bond would boost property taxes within the school district by 66 cents per $1,000 of assessed value over the 10-year term.

Arritola said under the plan, the owner of a home with the district’s median assessed value of $108,320 would pay an additional $71.49 per year to pay for the school improvements.

Arritolla said he and some of the other committee members had wanted to go with a five-year bond repayment schedule, but that would have increased the cost per $1,000 of assessed value to a level approaching the $1.97 per thousand that voters turned down in November 2018.

That bond measure, which also would have had a 30-year repayment, was defeated by a vote of 4,725 to 2,185

“Due to feedback from the community and a lot of lower income, fixed-income residents ­ — to be able to sell this bond — we wanted a dollar per thousand assessed value to be as low as we could get it,” Aritolla said.

Another committee member, retired Dr. Robert McKim, said he also favored a five-year repayment term on the bond.

“The people who vote for it are going to get the opportunity to pay it off instead of their kids,” he said. “I can accept this, but I was trying to make it over a shorter period of time.”

Committee member Travis Cook said the length of the bond repayment was the only area in which the committee members disagreed. Members finally reached consensus on the 10-year plan in their effort to try to convince voters to approve the measure.

As proposed, the committee’s recommendations for use of the bond measure and other revenue include:

Baker High School

• Remodel to include Grades 7-12. The high school, which was built to accommodate 830 students, houses only about 450 now.

• Safety and security upgrades, including secure entry addition

• Dedicated commons area for Grades 7-8

• Modernize existing locker rooms

• Grades 7-8 locker room addition

• Remodel science classrooms for Grades 7-8 use

Helen M. Stack Building, which formerly served Grades 7-8

• HMS would be transformed for Grades 5-6

• Safety and security upgrades, including secure entry and reconfigured parent/student drop-off area

• Refresh historic character of building with new windows, historic entry on Fourth Street and exterior upgrades

• 7,000-square-foot addition for multi-purpose room (serving as cafeteria/kitchen) and locker rooms

South Baker School

• Would serve Grades 3-4. The school, which today has students from grades 4, 5 and 6, exceeds its intended capacity.

• Safety and security upgrades, including secure entry

• New staff parking lot to increase parking and accessibility for parents

Brooklyn School

• Would serve Grades K-2. The school, which today has students from K-3, exceeds its intended capacity.

• Safety and security upgrades, including secure entry

• Restroom addition

North Baker Building, Haines and Keating Schools

• Safety and security upgrades

Committee members

In addition to Arritola, Cook and McKim, committee members were Jess Blatchford, Stacy DeLong, Riley Hall, Coby Mastrude, Lynette Perry, Wes Price, Angela Robb and Danae Simonski.

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