The D21 school board will host the first of several listening sessions next Thursday, Nov. 15, at the middle school to hear from citizens in the wake of a resounding defeat of its $235 million bond authority measure.
The measure went down with just a 40.8 percent yes vote.
“Obviously we are disappointed at the bond outcome,” said Kathy Ursprung, chair of the North Wasco County School District 21 board. “This was a citizen-driven effort, and our polls earlier in the year indicated a relatively strong level of support for the bond authority, especially once people understood the effort that was made to balance affordability with the urgent need to replace schools. We felt we owed it to the community to put this plan before them.”
The listening session will take place at the school board’s next meeting, starting at 6 p.m. in the large commons on the main floor of the middle school. It is being held in a large space so many people will be able to “attend and share their thoughts,” she said. “We will be bringing in an outside facilitator to lead the discussion.”
The board will conduct a minimum amount of business and then devote most of the meeting to a town hall/listening session, Ursprung said.
She said the board will hold several listening sessions in the coming weeks “so that people will have plenty of opportunities to make their thoughts known before we decide on a new course of action.”
District Superintendent Candy Armstrong said she was disappointed with the outcome but wanted to thank “the many people who worked so hard on the campaign and gave so much of their personal time and energy. However, the voters have spoken and now we need to determine next steps.”
She said she met with the board chair and vice chair and decided “the next step is to listen.”
She added, “Although the measure did not pass we definitely heard the community acknowledge that there is a need. Now we need to listen to the community and have them help us shape a positive path forward.”
The bond sought one vote to authorize five bonds issued over 20 years to replace four schools and make temporary upgrades to schools while they awaited replacement.