Bond would pay for upgrades to schools, pool

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

LCSD is hosting two community meetings – one online and one in-person – to discuss the bond, provide information and answer questions.
The online meeting takes place through Zoom from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27. Join on Zoom at bit.ly/lcsdbond.
The in-person meeting is from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at Lebanon High School, 1700 S. 5th St.
For more information, call (541) 451-8511 , or visit lebanon.k12.or.us/facilities-bond.
A 2019 facilities assessment report can be accessed at lebanon.k12.or.us/media/2021/01/Facilities-Assessment-Report.pdf.

A request from the Lebanon Community School District will be on the May 17 ballot for voters to approve a $20 million bond for district property maintenance needs. If approved, the state will provide an extra $4.3 million grant to help upgrade various school and pool facilities in Lebanon.
The bond would create a 26-cent levy rate for taxpayers, which comes to approximately $4 to $13 a month on homes with an assessed value of $200,000 to $600,000.
Taxpayers are currently paying approximately $29 to $87 a month on homes with those same assessed values from a prior school bond, with a $1.74 levy rate that is set to end in 2030. The new bond would bring the total levy rate to an even $2 per assessed value.

The School Board expects that when the current bond ends in eight years and taxpayers are left to continue paying off the 26-cent levy, the district will likely ask for another bond to then replace two of the oldest facilities, or build new facilities to serve the new growth in Lebanon.
Half of the $20 million bond is earmarked to renovate the high school pool, which serves the community through the Lebanon Aquatic District. Settling of the 55-year-old pool has caused a poor functioning gutter system that impacts water quality without constant maintenance and attention.
According to Brody Anderson of Wilsonville-based Anderson Poolworks, cast iron pipes beneath the facility are likely corroded and leaking, ready to close in on themselves at any point. Though those pipes are usually only good for 15 years, these 55-year-old pipes could last anywhere from one more day to 10 more years.
But when they’re done, the facility is done, officials say.
“Within the next couple of years it either gets upgraded or it gets shut down,” Supt. Bo Yates said at the Jan. 14, 2021 board meeting. “If we don’t address the pool, then within the next couple years we’ll have to fill it up with dirt. That’s the end result.”
The other $10 million and $4.3 million matching grant are earmarked for the schools and other district facilities. Though it’s not enough to fix every problem the buildings face, the board plans to pursue the highest priorities, including leaking roofs and air circulation units that require replacement, and adding to building security.
Former school board member Todd Gestrin doesn’t like that the pool is guaranteed replacement while not all of the school building needs will be completed.
“We will be a district with a nice pool, but our school buildings will still have outstanding maintenance items,” Gestrin said.
Yates said at the Oct. 14, 2021 board meeting, “We think it’s really important for us to take care of our assets that we have, to fix the buildings that we have, and do some updating, do some maintenance, deal with the pool, and keep our investment in our buildings good so when we get to 2030, we’re not paying for things that we should have taken care of.”
His goal is to attack deferred maintenance and growth needs through bonds in 10-year chunks by maintaining levy rates at $2.
“You have two options,” board member Tom Oliver said at that meeting. “You go without bonding for a long time, and you have a big shock – which is what we experienced 21 years ago – or you keep that at a level rate with smaller increments. The idea here is we try to keep things level and avoid those shocks. This board is gonna have to wrestle with this as long as the current tax structure in Oregon is in place, and I don’t anticipate that changing any time soon.”

District Business Director William Lewis provided a financial breakdown of where the district intends to distribute the bond funds, but emphasized that costs have been fluctuating on a weekly basis since COVID, so the list gives only a baseline idea of what they can expect.
Cascades: $400,000 for kitchen, flooring, boiler, site-based improvements, and safety and security improvements.
♦ Green Acres: $425,000 for kitchen, site-based improvements, and safety and security improvements.
Hamilton Creek: $255,000 for paint, kitchen, field improvement, site-based improvements, and safety and security improvements.
Lacomb: $740,000 for paint, HVAC/boiler, kitchen, site-based improvements, and safety and security improvements.
Land Lab: $210,000 for road, SS building, site-based improvements, and safety and security improvements.
Lebanon High School: $3,550,000 for roofing, HVAC, kitchen, paint, ADA bathrooms, showers, site-based improvements, and safety and security improvements.
♦ Maintenance: $33,000 for kitchen, site-based improvements, and safety and security improvements.
♦ Other district sites: $10,250,000 for pool upgrade, and baseball/softball lighting.
♦ Pioneer: $350,000 for HVAC, site-based improvements, and safety and security improvements.
♦ Ralston Academy: $95,000 for roofing, paint, and safety and security improvements.
♦ Riverview: $350,000 for HVAC, site-based improvements, and safety and security improvements.
♦ Seven Oak: $1,207,000 for paint, site-based improvements, and safety and security improvements.

The school district reported that a survey of 528 residents showed a 65 percent support rate for the bond measure.
Some in the community have voiced opposition to it with reasons including that they don’t use the facilities, they don’t believe a pool could cost $10 million, they don’t trust how their tax money is spent, they simply don’t want to pay more taxes, or they want the schools fully repaired before the district starts tackling the pool.
Chris Anderson is one of those who wants the school buildings fixed first. He would prefer to see the pool location instead used for classrooms to accommodate increasing community growth, and said a community pool should be built elsewhere.
“The students are more important than the pool,” Anderson said. “I don’t feel that tax payers should take on 100 percent of the financial burden for the pool repairs.”
Shantel Schroeder expressed concern that money from the bond wouldn’t cover all the needed repairs at the schools, but she also wants current bonds to be paid off before Lebanon taxpayers start another one.
“As much value I see in the pool, and how important it is in our community, I cannot support the bond,” Schroeder said. “All the money looking to go into the pool should be allocated to the schools, to our kids, to our future community leaders.”
Others who expressed support of the bond said the pool is a “staple” to the community, the pool is used by the swim team and schools and is important for kids to learn how to swim, and financially supporting community needs is the responsibility of those in the community.
“I feel that investment into the schools and the community pool is vital,” said Charlie Bias. “The pool serves not only the school system, but also many members of the community of all ages and economic abilities. Having a robust school system, as well as community amenities, would make Lebanon an even more attractive alternative for business development, which of course would mean even more jobs.”
Community advocate Wyatt King believes the bond is a difficult issue to address because quality schools and the value of the pool are assets to Lebanon, but the bond comes at a time when inflation is at an all-time high since the 1980s and construction costs continue to be volatile.
“We all want schools we can be proud, but this is a tough conversation for our community,” King said. “The pool is a valuable asset to our town, teaching kids how to swim, and providing recreation for everyone. It’s a hard time for families and businesses to take on additional costs, and an extremely difficult time to know what the true costs of these projects will be.
I support the intent behind the bond, and believe it will pass if our community sees the need, that the solutions will work, and that our district is committed to being good stewards of our investment in them.”