Officials want residents' input on $60M list

By: 
Seth Jovaag

If you go
What: Informational meeting about $60M in potential upgrades to Oregon School District buildings
Where: OHS commons
When: 6 p.m. Feb. 19
Why: Officials want feedback before prioritizing which projects the district should tackle first.

Before Oregon School District officials decide whether to put another referendum before voters this spring, they want to hear from you.

The district will host a community information session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Oregon High School commons.

At issue is a list of potential construction projects totaling up to $60 million, according to a report the Oregon School Board reviewed Monday night.

The list is considered a “master plan” that could guide major spending decisions for years to come, said superintendent Brian Busler.

“Community members shouldn’t think we are bringing forward a funding request for entire master plan,” he said.

Instead, officials want residents to weigh in on which projects are top priorities and which could wait. Likewise, board members have said they’ll need to prioritize which projects would be included in a potential referendum, as the $60 million price tag for doing all the work likely would be too steep for voters to swallow.

Last February, voters shot down a $33 million referendum that would have upgraded OHS, Oregon Middle School and several athletic fields.

Since October, officials have been meeting with architects and school staff to create a more comprehensive list of potential projects. Much of it mirrors what was in last year’s referendum. Some changes have been scrapped, but many more were added over the past three months, including expansions at Brooklyn Elementary School, building a more secure entrance to Prairie View Elementary and fixing the inadequate heating system at Netherwood Knoll Elementary.

At Tuesday’s meeting, officials will guide residents through the projects and the rationale for each one, Busler said. Residents can view site plans and ask questions, too. The hope is that their feedback will help the board hone its future plans.

Officials were to hold a similar meeting open to district staff on Feb. 12.

A board decision on the referendum could be made by early March. In January, the board decided it didn’t have enough time to prepare for a referendum on the next scheduled election day of April 2. Instead, they signaled interest in holding a vote on a non-election day, possibly Tuesday, May 21.

By state law, officials would need to provide 70-day notice before getting something on the ballot. That would put the deadline for a May 21 election on March 12.

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