Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
School Bond Basics
A bond issue is used by a public school district to finance school facility projects or other capital projects. Measures are placed on the ballot along with information about the specific projects that would be completed by the district if approved by the voting public.
Public school districts use school bonds to pay for school building projects. Bond measures are put on a ballot for the public to vote on. The measure must include details about projects that would be done if voters pass the measure. Bond measures allow school districts to pay for expensive building projects across time.
If passed, yes. The potential bond would invest $149 million in Estacada Schools which would raise taxes $2.38 on top of the current tax rate of $1.17 for a total of around $3.55 per thousand dollars assessed value.
Note: A property’s assessed value is very different from the real market value. A home that sells for around $450,000, might have an assessed value of much less- often around half of the real market value. The average assessed property value in Estacada School District limits is around $204,000 according to the county taxation office.
You can calculate your cost on the Costs tab of this website.
By law, General Obligation Bond funds can only be used for the capital projects outlined in the ballot explanatory statement. These funds cannot be used for items such as PERS, salaries, or other employee expenses, nor can they be used for routine maintenance or supplies.
History of Estacada School District Bonds
The last school bond was passed 23 years ago in 2000.That bond raised $25.4 million to fund major construction and restructuring projects that made significant improvements at all Estacada schools. The 2000 bond has a 25 year repayment period and will be retiring in 2025.
Clackamas River Elementary was built to replace Estacada Grade School which was built in 1931 and beyond repair.
Estacada Middle School was remodeled to make it earthquake resistant, upgraded wiring and lighting, created larger classrooms and a new heading and ventilation system.
Upgrades at Estacada High School including roof repairs to eliminate leaks and promote better drainage, replaced electric heating system, and upgrades to wiring and lighting.
River Mill Elementary received a new gymnasium, music room and additional classrooms in the construction of an annex building. Roof repairs, electrical and lighting upgrades, and updates to comply with ADA requirements.
Upgrades to Eagle Creek Elementary including roof repairs, electrical and lighting upgrades, the creation of a media center and additional classrooms.
District Office addition to replace a temporary trailer.
The 2000 bond has a 25 year repayment period and will be retiring in 2025. The 2000 bond was passed at a rate of $2.19 (worth $3.86 in today’s dollars). It now costs taxpayers $1.16 due to reducing factors including a refinance and an expanding tax base. It is anticipated that this potential bond would have similar factors that would reduce the cost.
Note: The new bond will NOT go into effect until the current bond expires.
Our Schools and Facilities
There are 3 major concerns regarding our current facilities:
Overcrowding: The Estacada School District has grown 10% over the past 5 years and is predicted to grow another 25% over the next decade. Both Elementary schools are serving a record number of students and are utilizing portables or unconventional spaces as classrooms to address urgent overcrowding.
System Updates: The average Estacada School District building is over 50 years old. Due to lack of funding many essential systems in the district are failing, including plumbing, electrical wires, roofs and windows. As the age of our buildings rise, so do maintenance costs.
Building Safety: Fire suppression and building security upgrades are needed to provide students with state-of-the art safety systems.
Temperature regulation & Air Conditioning: Temperature regulation at each school is inefficient and inadequate, resulting in cold or hot classrooms along with high energy and maintenance costs.
The district will continue to prioritize high-quality educators, small class sizes, and a diversity of program offerings. These priorities mean that large maintenance investments are difficult to make. A school bond would focus on creating cost-saving efficiencies that would allow the maintenance of buildings to begin funding itself more, decreasing the amount of money that is taken away from students and the classroom.
Although we are confident that students and staff are safe on campus, safety systems and mechanisms are constantly evolving. Investing in new state of the art safety systems includes installing fire suppression, updated wiring, improved air quality, increased security cameras, increased “instant lockdown” door functions, plumbing replacements, improved traffic flows for pedestrian safety, community evacuation centers for extreme heat, fires, or natural disasters
Eagle Creek Elementary is not an ideal option for a 3rd elementary school for multiple reasons.
- Substantial building improvements, well, and septic system updates would be needed to house the number of students in a traditional elementary school
- Eagle Creek Elementary currently houses Summit Learning Charter, a charter school that partners with the district. Summit Learning Charter has been recognized statewide as a top charter school, and is an excellent tenant. Summit Learning Charter has been improving and maintaining the Eagle Creek building, and both students and the district benefit from the charter school remaining housed at Eagle Creek Elementary. Annually the district receives more than $2 million in profit from its partnership with Summit Charter.
- Growth in Estacada is occurring within the current River Mill Elementary boundaries. Our community is very resistant to updating boundaries and relocating students to Eagle Creek
- Keeping our schools close for convenience and a campus atmosphere
How Schools Affect the Local Community
Strong communities and strong schools go hand in hand. Communities with good schools can impact home values, encourage people to stay and invest in the local area, and can supply the local economy with better skilled workers. Studies show that crime rates are lower in areas with well funded schools.
The community will also be able to utilize new and updated facilities for youth athletics, community functions and large gatherings.
Additionally, good schools can improve community pride, connections, and a sense of belonging.
A community with good schools can positively affect home values, area pride, business attractiveness and help shape the future workforce. Students can go on to be skilled workers and engaged citizens that contribute to the local economy and community in various ways.
School facilities provide community organizations gathering spaces for sporting activities and various events. Our schools are the main hub of Estacada youth sports and we happily let local athletic teams practice and play in our facilities free of cost.
Investment and Financial Transparency
The proposed bond tax would apply to property owners living within the Estacada School District boundaries.
No. Estacada School District annually spends approximately 41 million dollars on education; the largest portion of the general fund revenue comes from the Oregon Department of Education. The school district gets paid money from the state, using your taxes, for each student that enrolls in the Estacada School District. We get a little less than 10 thousand dollars for each student in our schools. These funds are intended for general operations, such as hiring teachers and staff, providing transportation, and educating kids.
In Oregon, it’s up to each local community to invest their resources, via local capital improvement bonds. While current funding sources help the district provide a great education for students, big projects like building new schools and renovating current buildings must be funded through school bonds.
Watch a short series to learn about how school districts are funded and how your taxes are spent here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubdG43w_EKY
Yes, the state offers matching funds for school districts that pass bond measures. These funds come from the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching (OSCIM) Program. The district is taking the necessary steps to apply for the OSCIM grant. The district will not be eligible to receive these funds if the bond is not passed.
No. Annual building maintenance would still occur, but the proposed projects would not be completed.
Area growth, increased home values and bond refinancing all contributed to a lower than approved rate. As new taxpayers move into a community, each taxpayer’s “piece of the pie” gets smaller.It is anticipated that if a bond were to get passed again, costs would likely go down over time.
Yes. Similar to the 2000 bond rate decreasing from $2.19 down to $1.17 over time, it is likely that the bond rate could change. Housing construction, area growth/decline, and home values could all contribute to changing the rate per thousand of assessed value.
Funds collected from the proposed capital improvement bond would be placed in a sub-account, and a community oversight committee along with the School Board will monitor expenditures to verify that funds are used as approved by voters. No funds will be spent for administration and performance auditing of district programs will be completed regularly.
The Estacada School District is proud to announce that it has been awarded the prestigious Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting (COE) by the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO). This esteemed recognition highlights the district's commitment to financial transparency and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars. ASBO International's COE program honors school districts that have met rigorous standards for financial reporting and transparency. The Estacada School District earned this honor for its financial management during the 2021-22 school year.
Participation in the COE program also holds significant financial benefits for the district. One major benefit is the district becoming eligible for a higher bond rating. Similar to an individual’s credit score, a higher bond rating means that the district will qualify for a lower interest rate.
Long Range Facilities Planning & Community Oversight
Bond planning began in 2023 after the successful analysis of the district’s 950-page facility needs review. Early 2023, a Long Range Facilities Planning Committee of 30 community members was formed and came together to review options and provide feedback on the path the district should take for the future of our facilities.
Students, parents, staff and the community were invited to these various meetings and their input was invaluable to charting the path and future of our schools. Beyond our community meetings, smaller focus groups took place with staff from each of our schools.
Currently we have 4 committees working to narrow the scope of the projects based on particular focus areas: Finance Task Force, Community Use Committee, Site Committee and Educational Need Committee.
Multiple Polls have been conducted to provide a bond package that received the broadest community support.
An independent citizen Bond Oversight Committee would monitor the progress of the bond, issue regular reports, and ensure that projects are being managed responsibly. Additionally, the law prohibits the use of bond funds for any expense not listed on the ballot. Transparency and trust is important to the Estacada School District, and the district continues to receive clean audit results from a third-party annually.
Our District has utilized FLO Analytics services to provide a forecast on future enrollment that is based on historical and current enrollment, district births and kindergarten enrollment, current population forecasts, and new housing developments. The proposed new high school and middle school updates will ensure we have adequate space for all learners.
The reason that the bond is being considered now is due to increased needs and rising costs. The needs include updating our aging schools, increasing safety, and addressing overcrowding. Inflation costs mean that each month that the district waits on a project this large, the cost increases by around $600,000. As district needs continue to rise alongside costs, it is beneficial to address all needs as soon as possible. Time is money.
Yes, Estacada School District plans on investing in a humble new building that meets our needs without being excessive. Original quotes from industry professionals for a new high school came in at over $200 million, which is the amount of money that many high schools across this state are being built for right now. Our district leaders, community members, and committees worked together to create a plan that brought that cost down to ensure that it would meet our capacity needs and address our aging facilities. That is why the new EHS space is proposed to be on the current campus as well, saving money on things like earthwork. This is a big investment for our community to consider- there's no denying that. But this package is one of the most cost-effective ways to address the district's needs without going over budget or coming back for a second bond in a few years.
One portion of the high school would be demolished to construct a new two-story high school space. Around 80,000 sqft would remain, which in phase two would be renovated to become a 7th and 8th grade space. This 80,000 sq ft space is where our high school students would be housed during the demolition of the other portion of the high school. This plan is both one of the most cost-efficient ways to increase our capacity, and the least disruptive to students.
Our district maintenance team has a strong track record in keeping buildings in working order to serve the needs of our students. Currently, a significant amount of resources are used to manually operate and repair aging and inefficient systems, technologies, and equipment. The bond would allow the district’s maintenance employees to work more efficiently and spend more time maintaining than bandaging our facilities.
An independent citizen bond oversight committee would monitor the progress of the bond, issue regular reports, and ensure that projects are being managed responsibly. Additionally, the law prohibits the use of bond funds for any expense not listed on the ballot. Transparency and trust is important to the Estacada School District, and the district continues to receive clean audit results from a third-party annually.