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Dufur school district seeks bond

Dufur School District received a bond fund-matching commitment of $4 million last month under the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching (OSCIM) program, the district announced last week.

Dufur’s Board of Education has approved the placement of a $4 million general obligation bond measure on the November ballot to match the funds and be eligible to receive the grant. The school district has set up a bond committee to consider the proposal and to educate the Dufur community about the measure.

“This is a great opportunity for the community of Dufur to improve their school plan and safety,” said Dufur School District Superintendent Jack Henderson.

The OSCIM program was established in 2015 by the Oregon Legislature. It matches dollar-to-dollar up to $4 million for communities that pass general obligation bonds to address deferred maintenance challenges. The program is one part of SB 447, which also provides technical assistance and hardship grants. The grants are primarily funded by the State School Fund while OSCIM is funded with state-issued general obligation bonds.

Of 10 Oregon school districts that applied for OSCIM, Dufur was one of the four awarded a commitment.

If Dufur’s local bond measure is not approved, the grant will be awarded to another district on the waiting list.

The estimated tax rate, added to the property tax on all taxable property within the district, on this bond would be $1.71 per $1,000 of assessed value and would retire be paid off in 10 years, Dufur School District said in a written statement.

This rate is nearly 48 percent less than that on the current bond, $3 per $1,000, which is set to retire this June. That $3.75-million bond was taken out in 2008 to remodel Dufur School’s food facilities and construct a metal and wood shop, a computer lab and a technology building.

Should taxpayers approve the $4 million bond and Dufur receive the matching grant, the district expects to use the $8 million total to fund updates to Dufur School’s security, transportation and facilities.

“As all schools are today, we are concerned about safety environment,” said Henderson. He hopes to have the school’s front entry remodeled, as the front office staff don’t have visibility to the outside and can’t adequately block the doors, he said.

“We don’t have the ability to lock our building down instantly at this point in time,” and that is a high priority, Henderson said.

Another goal is to address traffic concerns around the school by separating buses from vehicular traffic, redesigning the parking lot, and creating a better place to house the school buses.

Funds would also be used to replace the windows in all district buildings with higher efficiency ones, and to update heating units in two gyms that still run on oil.

This bond measure is the third up for vote since Henderson began working at the Dufur School District.

Typically, he said, the community responds positively to these bond measures but added “anytime you’re dealing with bonds, you’re dealing with taxes.”

Henderson said the community will be guiding the district and the Board of Education towards what they want to see.

“It’s our job to provide the best information possible for folks so they can make the best decision possible,” for themselves and the students, he said.


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