The Bend Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted January 24 to support the new bond proposed by the Bend-La Pine Schools. The bond is scheduled for the May 16, 2017 general election ballot.
The $268.3 million capital construction bond would fund new schools, safety improvements, classroom renovations, maintenance and preservation. More than half of the district’s elementary schools and all of the high schools in Bend are near or over capacity, due to continuous enrollment growth, according to Peggy Kinkade, Bend-La Pine Schools Board Chair.
“The Bend Chamber Board understands a healthy school system is a critical draw for businesses and families to locate here,” explained Bend Chamber President Katy Brooks. “They also know there is a need to invest in a sustainable workforce pipeline in our community, allowing us to support a steady stream of the next working generation from Bend and Central Oregon.”
The board’s vote to support was prompted by the need to gain momentum prior to the May 16 election. The Bend Chamber is scheduled to meet with Bend-La Pine Schools to discuss further details on what the measure will accomplish.
Chair Kinkade and Cheri Helt, Bend-La Pine Schools Board Director, recently visited the Bend Chamber Advocacy Council to share the new proposal and start a dialogue in an effort to request a recommendation be made to the Bend Chamber Board for support. The committee discussed how Bend-La Pine Schools compares with other districts, as well as, the number of bond issues currently appearing on tax records and the timing of their maturity dates.
Kinkade followed up on statewide comparisons to other districts with info-graphs showing bond and levy rates (PDF included). She also shared the following answer from Bend-La Pine Schools CFO, Brad Henry, regarding the number and maturity of bonds on current tax records:
“We currently have three bonds that have been issued in 2007, 2013 with the 2016 issue (remaining portion of the 2013 approval) outstanding. We have portions of each of these that mature each year, reducing the bond debt burden as time goes on. The final maturity of each of the previous bonds range from 2024 to 2033. (If) the levy passes in May, our projection is the rate would go to 1.90 per $1,000 through 2022-23, then drop to $1.49 per $1,000 in 2023-24 (November, 2023 statements),” said Henry.
Bend school investments rank fifth among the seven Central Oregon districts, above only Crook County and Black Butte. Compared to the 20 largest districts in Oregon, it ranks 14th in bonds and 13th in levies. “Our tax burden is lighter than many districts. I believe our district has managed our resources wisely and efficiently over the past couple of decades,” shared Kinkade.
Please direct media inquiries to Katy Brooks, President of the Bend Chamber, at firstname.lastname@example.org.