By editorial board • 

School bonds on May ballot both the right size for voters

Residents of two local school districts will vote on school bonds in the May 17 primary.

The sticker price on one gives us a moment of pause, but the other is all-around reasonable. In the end, we believe both are worthy of yes votes. 

The McMinnville School District proposes an $89.4 million bond to fund significant expansion at the high school, increasing its capacity by 400 students and giving it a new free-standing vocational center.

There are two bond measures currently for taxpayers living within district boundaries, a $29.7 million measure passed in 1997 to, in part, build Grandhaven Elementary and expand Wascher Elementary and Duniway Middle School, and a $62 million measure passed in 2006 to build Sue Buel Elementary, address high school needs and more.

The 1996 bond will be paid off in June, and thanks to substantial tax base growth over the intervening years, and interest rates currently at near-record lows, the new bond can be financed at the same rate. Proponents are taking advantage by noting passage would not raise your taxes at all.

We consider that more a talking point than the entire truth. After all, it means passing up a hefty tax cut.

The timing is fortuitous enough so one could make an argument for an even higher bond. However, a bond topping the $100 million mark might be more than voters could accept. The task force serving as architect of the bond struck a sound balance between demonstrated needs and what residents can currently afford.

Other projects to be financed with bond proceeds are designed to make older buildings around the district safer, more energy-efficient and better-suited for student learning. 

In comparing the current proposal to past bonds, voters may recognize one element missing — construction of a new school. The proposed invocational center, however, could be considered as something akin to a new school.

McMinnville has been ahead of the curve on career and vocational-technical training. That focus has been a major factor in the string of high ratings and prestigious awards bestowed on the district.

We consider the construction of the center a necessary step to achieving a greater capacity of education for our youth, and support the bond on that score.

In Yamhill-Carlton, voters are being asked to pass a $14.2 million bond with a projected cost of $1.36 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

It would fund construction of an innovative concrete dome gym at the high school — one capable of also serving as a gathering place and emergency refuge for the community. More importantly, it would fund numerous badly needed improvements for the district’s aging buildings.

A video created by the district — “YCSD Bond Video,” narrated by Facility Manager Bobby Dixon — can be found on YouTube. It makes a convincing case.


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