$15 Million Corbett School District GO Bond – Failed
General Obligation bonds (GO Bonds) can be used for what is described on the ballot. In the past GO bonds could not be used for anything but capital improvements. As of 2011 they can now be used for anything with a life of more than one year.
Corbett Schools commissioned a scientific phone survey from the Nelson Group. Results to note from this survey:…
Area tax payers would support approximately 8 million for a new middle school building and seismic upgrades to improve safety for students in the district.
Voters would be more likely to vote for a bond if assurances were made about a limit on bringing in more out of the area students.
If we build it they will come. But who will pay?
The School Board voted 5-2 to place almost twice the amount the community survey results showed the community would support. Select here for notes from this meeting and to read the comments from the board members about how they voted. Select here for a recap of this survey and to see the full survey results as a pdf document.
26-154 Corbett School District - Official VOTE FOR 1 Yes . . . . . . . . . . . . 633 37.66 No. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,048 62.34
In the report from January 16, 2013, from the Group MacKenzie, as part of the same conditional use application with Multnomah County, it states that currently our district enrolls 1,270 students for the 2012/2013 school year.
According to the Oregon Department of Education ( ODE ) Corbett’s resident ( students actually living in Corbett ) student population has fluctuated between 600 and 700 students for the past 20 years. The current application is asking for 1382 students and 80 staff ( for the main campus only ) and CAPS in Springdale is allowed 268 students and staff.
This would bring the District total allowed/desired number to 1,730 students and staff.
The current conditional use application with Multnomah County, specifically lists that if the buildings were improved ( classrooms added ) on the main campus ( perhaps through the passing of a bond for new construction? ) that the process would need to be revisited to leave the door open for even more students.
The plans presented for improvements for this bond have included more classrooms through the construction of a new high school ( to replace the current middle school ) creating overall more square footage than we currently have, as well as possibly a new gym, a theater and an all weather track. ( The ServPro Building alone is 14,000 square feet. )
There will be a hearing on this conditional use application on October 11, 2013, at 1:00 PM. Select here for more information and to review the application.
“This wording is there to pass the bond & appease the people”
Comments made at board meetings are below. These were mostly from Mr. Bob Lawerence, who was hired to work with the district on the bond, on Superintendent Randy Trani’s recommendations. Comments were in regards to placing a $15 million dollar bond on the ballot, knowing the survey did not support the projects that they wanted that money for:
- “Verbiage change is to disguise the things those surveyed did not seem to want.” …
- “Bill it as gym space and make it whatever you want later on.” …
- “General way to describe it & get voters to approve.” …
- “Acquire land for safe traffic flow, the purpose is not for safe traffic flow but it sounds good & if your buying land you have to state that you are.” … ( This is in reference to the additional plan to purchase the ServPro Building adjacent to the School District to use as a district office, storage and possibly preschool. This building is also very old and would add an additional 12-14,000 square feet of space. )
- Also, mentioned was the concept of contributing to a bond out of the operational fund and disguising it as contributions from out of area student families.
- “This wording is there to pass the bond & appease the people”
October 1, 2013
Letter from the State Historic Preservation Office to both Randy Trani and Charlie O’Neil seems to point to our district and board’s lack of follow through as to laws that have to do with buildings that are publicly owned and can be considered historic. Select here for the full letter and documents sent. It is possible after assessment the district receives permission to tear the building down. On the other hand, it would have seemed prudent to at least find out if demolishing the building was even allowed prior to getting costs/plans to do so and build new structures in its place.
September 3, 2013
Special board meeting for the vote on the upcoming bond.
Select here for meeting notes.
July 2013 Board Meeting
Notes taken from the board meeting can be found here. ( Including the Survey Results and information/discussions about the recommendations of the Steering Committee. )
June 13, 2013
December 3, 2012
The below information came from the special board meeting held on 11-26-12 which was announced on 11-24-12.
1. General Information on General Obligation bonds presented by Mary McPherason, of Seattle NW.2. Presentation from DLR – Asset Management Group 3. Information on PACs and the role of the District in getting a bond. * More information to be added soon.
Mary McPherason, Vice President of SNW – [ Handout from the presentation here – pdf ]
The formula ( page 4 of the above handout ) shows that the bond levy rate is the debt service payment divided by the assessed value. Mary Macpherson was asked why we can get a higher borrowing amount now than when the 1994 bond went out and she said in 1994 the assessed value was $221,000, so the formula was 6.1 million over $221,000.
The assessed value that is being used now is $330,000. So, since assessed value has gone up over $100,000 the borrowing amount can be higher. We can not promise that taxes will not go up, as you don’t vote for a specific payment amount per year, but the total dollar amount of the bond amortized over a specific period of time.
Will taxes remain the same? CSD has made the last full payment from our property taxes, the next payment to finish paying off the Grade School will be at a lower rate so in November of 2013 the tax amount collected will be around $1.56 per assessed thousand, rather than the current $2.35 per assessed thousand.
So, if we say we won’t be raising the tax amount to finance the potential changes, the tax rate would need to stay at $1.56 per thousand– and that would give the district approximately $10.5 million in GO bonds. ( If we want to go with the current 2012 number of $2.35 per assessed thousand, the taxes would drop in 2013, then increase back up in 2014. That would get the District $14.9 million in GO bonds. )
As your assessed value rises, so will your property taxes. On page five of the above handout, you will see the average increase in assessed value (in 2009 we jumped almost 13%, but lost 5% the next year. 2010 is the only year we had negative growth since the graph starts.) The bond rate is a projected rate and the rate can not be guaranteed at this time.
2. Long Range Facility Planning
DLR Design Group
DLR is an asset management team that works with many other school districts. They presented at this meeting. You can download the presentation information by selecting here. ( pdf ) This information is what DLR does in general [ download the pdf ] and is not specific to Corbett. They are an asset management team that would come in and do a physical, program, enrollment and space assessment. They want the entire process to be highly visible and will engage the school community and the neighboring community in meetings, discussions and plans.
If the assessment determines that we may want to float a bond in the November 2013 election, they want us to realize the 20-60-20 rule of thumb. Twenty percent of voters will vote for the school no matter what. As Mr. Rose put it, if the school wants to put in three new swimming pools, 20% will vote for it because they always vote for the schools. Twenty percent will always vote no on school issues. One example was a district where a school burned down and insurance wouldn’t cover all the costs… 20% voted no even though there was no other school available.
That leaves the 60% who stand there and say “Convince me.” This is the sector that wants to know: why do we need a bond, how are the students doing, are my tax dollars being spent wisely, am I being listened to as a taxpayer/community member, are we doing due diligence, do I trust the District? They want accountability from the District and depending on how each community member answers these questions, the District needs to determine if there are areas they need to correct before asking for a bond.
What was said as very Important to do: We need to have all sectors of our population show up at meetings, give input and disperse information to the community. If you don’t have all sectors, you do not have a safety valve or a realistic representation of the community. Pages 39-44 cover COMMUNITY OUTREACH. Including: Site-based meetings, Public meetings, District publications, Special brochures, Notes home with students, District website/email, Local publications & broadcast stations, Social media.
* Although several community members that were then attending these meetings stood and spoke for the record that they felt we should go with DLR, we did not hire them. We instead went with Rommel – who we used for the Springdale School. Of note, Rommel did not turn in their proposal on time or even to the specs requested.
3. PAC ( Political Action Committee )
When going for a bond, the District and the PAC (Political Action Committee) have two similar, but different roles.
The District can tell people to Vote. The District can pay staff to give information out to the community, printed informational materials, facilities assessment and all planning. If the bond passes the District may reimburse themselves for money spent to that point. Their information should be informational in content only. Not persuasive.
The PAC can tell people to Vote yes. The PAC would have to pay for any consulting done and for their own materials and costs. For a bond the size that is being mentioned, the PAC should be looking to raise $12,000 to $15,000. All donations are public record and need to be available at anytime for anyone who wants to see them.
* 11/28/12 there was a special school board meeting to consider placing a bond on an upcoming election ballot. Select here for the meeting notes and also the presentation documents that were provided by the presenters.