Facts and Questions

Background

For nearly three years a committee comprised of community stakeholders, staff members, city officials, parents, and board members have been vigorously studying the significant facility challenges facing the Hermiston School District. Tasked by the School Board in 2005, the mission of this Long Range Facility Planning Committee was to analyze, research, and identify the facility and infrastructure needs of the District. In September of 2007 this committee presented their findings. Their report highlighted three paramount concerns that face the Hermiston School District; significant student enrollment growth, aging buildings in need of replacement, and a large number of students permanently served in outdated portable structures. Their recommendation highlighted five primary capital construction projects for Board consideration which included the replacement of Hermiston’s four oldest campuses and the construction of a new elementary school.

In response to the recommendation from the Long Range Facility Planning Committee, the Board of Directors identified several community leaders to serve on an independent review panel. This Blue Ribbon Panel was charged to review the outcomes of the 1999 bond initiative, study the process employed by the Long Range Facility Planning Committee, and to make a final recommendation to the School Board for the most appropriate package to place before voters. On December 11, 2007 the Blue Ribbon Panel presented their recommendation to the Board of Education. Click here for a copy of their recommendation. Following the Blue Ribbon Panel report, the Board of Education has commissioned two statistically reliable phone surveys as well as held three community forums to gauge community sentiment towards the projects. After careful consideration the Board has chosen to place a $69.9 Million package before the voters that will address the most urgent of capital construction needs.

What?

In partnership with the community, the Hermiston School District has developed a school bond measure to address three major areas of concern; aging infrastructure, rapid enrollment growth, and ensuring a quality learning environment for students.

Why?

  • Aging Infrastructure:  The average age of Hermiston’s four oldest schools is 57 years.  A comprehensive third-party engineer study (Absolute Engineering LLC, 2006) identified significant deficiencies in the four oldest schools[Armand Larive Middle School(1936), West Park Elementary School(1950), Sunset Elementary School(1957), and Rocky Heights Elementary(1962)].  This bond measure would replace the three oldest facilities.
  • Enrollment Growth: Hermiston School District continues to experience rapid enrollment growth.  Over the last twenty years the District has seen an average growth of 70 students per year.  By 2016 Hermiston School District expects to see an increase of 1000 new students (PSU Population Research Center, 2007).  Currently the District uses 10 temporary portable units to house nearly 350 students due to the lack of permanent classroom space.  An increase of 1000 students would result in the demand for an additional 25 portables if capacity challenges are not addressed.  This bond measure would increase the permanent capacity by over 500 students through replacement and modest expansion of current structures (ALMS Replacement=800 capacity, Sunset Replacement 550, West Park Replacement=550) and reduce the use of portable classrooms by 50 percent.
  • Quality Learning Environment: The Hermiston community has articulated its desire to provide quality learning environments for all students.  Recent Community Attitude Surveys reveal this topic to be the most important consideration when evaluating capital construction needs.  Maintaining small class sizes, improving access to technology, addressing the learning needs of current and future students, and assuring safe and secure learning environments resonated throughout the feedback.  This bond would respond directly to these community goals.  When: The bond measure will appear on the November 4, 2008 ballot.  This is a mail-in election that does not require a double majority vote.  Ballots are due at the County Clerk’s office no later than 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.  To be eligible to vote you must be registered by 5:00 p.m. October 14, 2008.

How Much?

This bond measure totals $69.9 million and would initially cost property owners an estimated $1.40 per $1,000 of taxable value. This amount is approximately $11.67 per month (or $140 per year) on a home with a taxable value of $100,000. With the retirement of previous bonds and the addition of this new twenty-year bond, the total school bond tax rate is projected to remain stable over the life of this issue.

What about the other projects previously identified by the community and District task forces?

Both the Long Range Facility Planning Committee and Blue Ribbon Panel identified $105 million in District facility needs. After carefully considering feedback from the community, the Board of Education is placing the most urgent projects before voters as Phase I of a comprehensive facilities plan to address all needs. Following the successful completion of all Phase I projects, the District will be seeking additional support for Phase 2 within 5-7 years to address additional requirements.

Additional Information