School district to apply for $4.5M grant

By Sean C. Morgan

The Lebanon School Board on Thursday, Sept. 12,  accepted a facilities assessment report and a long-range facilities plan and approved an application for $4.5 million in matching grant funds from the state with plans to discuss next month plans for a bond measure to make repairs to the district’s school buildings.

The Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching Program will match up to $4.5 million in bond funds for capital construction projects. Supt. Bo Yates said the report and plan conducted by Soderstrom Architects were paid for using grant funds.

According to the assessment report, which exceeds 200 pages, district facilities need some $41 million in repairs to reach like-new condition. Among them, Riverview Elementary needs some $86,000 in repairs at the low end, while Lebanon High School needs repairs estimated at more than $16 million, with most other schools ranging between $3 million and $5 million in repair needs. Pioneer Elementary requires some $365,000 in repairs.

According to the report, most buildings ranged from fair to poor condition. Riverview and Pioneer, the newest buildings, constructed in 2001, were rated in good condition.

“We need to go out for the $4.5 (million),” said board member Nick Brooks. “It would be silly to do anything other than that.”

William Lewis III, disrict director of business services, said that with the board’s approval, the application was to go out first thing Friday morning, Sept. 13.

He told the board that he expects to find out within two weeks if Lebanon qualifies for the grant.

At the next regular board meeting, Oct. 10, the board will discuss whether to place a bond measure on the May 2020 ballot.

“Next month we’ll be able to have some more discussion,” said Chairman Tom Oliver. “Knowing where we’re at with that funding, we can have a much better conversation around what the process is going to be, moving forward, if we decide to seek a bond.”

Present at the meeting were Tammy Schilling, Richard Borden, Oliver, Brooks and Mike Martin.

In other business, the board:

♦ Approved a plan to refinance the district’s 2005 bond levy. It was refinanced in 2011.

Lewis said the district has approximately $23.5 million in debt service, including principal and interest.

Thanks to an unusual inverse yield curve, interest rates for mid-term bonds have lower rates than short- or long-term bonds, creating a unique opportunity for the district to refinance, Lewis said. Refinancing, the district will save $1.9 million, enough to pay off the bond a year early in 2029 or to reduce the property tax rate by a few cents.

♦ Approved the hiring of Laura Eason, music and band teacher; Kelsey Harris, secondary counselor; and Carole Robinson, elementary teacher.

♦ Approved policy updates regarding harassment and bullying.

♦ Received a report on district’s Continuous Improvement Plan, including three goals.

First, each student will demonstrate growth in language arts and math leading to a 3-percent increase in overall achievement on state tests and 50 percent of students on grade level as measured in STAR testing.

Second, the intact cohort graduation rate will increase to 90 percent.

Third, 98 percent of the intact cohort will read at or above grade level by third grade.

♦ Heard a proposal from Supt. Bo Yates about his evaluation.

In February, he would like the board to evaluate him using the Oregon School Boards Association’s template, to provide information he can take back to his team.

In June, he would like a full evaluation, with at least 50 percent of his evaluation based on STAR testing data, state assessment data, the four-year cohort graduation rate, the rate of high school students on track and grades at the high school and Seven Oak Middle School.

He would like a 360-degree evaluation, but believes it’s premature to do one this year, Yates said. Instead, this year, he would like to include a couple of questions in the parent survey and use focus groups to learn about how he is doing.

He is proposing a 360-degree evaluation in 2020-21.

The board agreed that he would work out the details of the evaluation process with Martin and Brooks.