FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: Question: What is the Coos Bay Best Bond Committee? Answer: We are a community group of Coos Bay citizens dedicated to building excellent schools together. We are volunteers working to pass a bond to improve, replace and expand our Coos Bay schools.
Question: What is the Best Committee asking for? Answer: After reviewing all of the Coos Bay School District’s facilities and facility needs, the Best Committee has recommended asking voters to approve a $59.9 million school bond on the November 2017 ballot.
Question: What exactly is a school bond? Answer: A school bond is the method school districts use to borrow money to build new or improve old facilities. Just as you might use a mortgage to buy a home or a home-equity loan to pay for a home improvement project, school districts borrow money for buildings by issuing bonds. Investors buy the bonds and are paid back through property taxes. Voters have to approve all school bonds.
Question: What would the money be used for? Answer: With the bond money, the District would: 1) replace the Harding Building (built in 1924) with a new 7th and 8th grade school; 2) replace Blossom Gulch with a new elementary school where Eastside Elementary stands today; 3) renovate and expand Madison Elementary School; 4) renovate and improve Millicoma and Sunset Intermediate Schools.
Question: How much will this cost the tax-payer? Answer: School bonds are repaid through additional property taxes. If repaid over twenty years, this proposal would add about $1.60 per $1000 of assessed property value. For example, if you own property in the Coos Bay School District with a tax value of $200,000, your property tax would increase by about $320/year. That's 88 cents a day or about $27 per month.
Question: Why do local taxpayers have to pay for school buildings? Answer: Since the passage of Measure 5 in the early 90s, local school district operating budgets have been funded by the State through the State School Fund. This money covers what happens in the schools every day: salaries, supplies, maintenance, utilities, etc. The State School Fund does not and has never included money for capital improvements. School buildings belong to the local community and are paid for by the local community. Anywhere you see new or renovated schools in Oregon, it is because local voters have approved a school facilities bond.
Question: Are there any Matching funds available? Answer: The District is guaranteed a $4 million matching grant from the state if this bond passes. If it doesn't pass, that money will go to another district.
Question: What about money from the Jordan Cove Energy Project? Answer: Jordan Cove and the North Spit are in the Coos Bay School District. If Jordan Cove is built, it will triple the District's tax base. Money from Jordan Cove would dramatically change the cost of repayment of these bonds to the rest of the taxpayers, whether because of direct taxes on Jordan Cove, or increased Community Enhancement Plan payments to the district.
Question: How do we know the money will be spent on these building plans? Answer: By law, bond funds can ONLY be spent on capital projects as approved by the voters.
Question: What’s wrong with the current buildings? Answer: All of the buildings involved in the bond proposal, except for the newer part of Sunset, are over fifty years old. All of them need repair, renovation or replacement to meet modern standards for safety, security, seismic reinforcement, accessibility, efficiency, technology and space. Most are at or above capacity, and Coos Bay Schools enrollment is climbing again after years of decline.
Question: How have the current buildings been maintained and how will the District take care of new buildings? Answer: The District spends more than 10% of its general fund budget—more than $3 million/year—on upkeep, maintenance and repairs. Unfortunately, because of the age of the buildings and their many outdated systems, most of this goes into trying to keep everything functional. Little is left over for cosmetic projects and curb appeal. With new or wholly renovated buildings, the District could devote the same or fewer resources and maintain schools the community will be proud of.
Question: Why replace Harding with a new 7th-8th grade building? Answer: Right now, 8th graders share space on the main Marshfield campus and 7th graders are split between Millicoma and Sunset. These students and their teachers belong together in their own building so that the District can meet the needs of this unique age group. The Harding Building has served the community well, but trying to renovate it to modern standards isn’t practical. Replacing Harding (but keeping the gym, which is newer), would create a new 7-8 school, separate from Marshfield’s main campus but close enough to allow partnerships with Marshfield’s fine arts programs, career and technical classes, and advanced coursework.
Question: What’s wrong with Blossom Gulch? Answer: Blossom Gulch is literally sinking. It was built in 1954 on wooden pilings driven into fill. This foundation has now failed. The building is in the tsunami inundation zone under the State’s new maps. That makes it illegal to build a new school on the same site. The District has space for a replacement school at the Eastside location.
Question: What’s wrong with Madison? Answer: Madison was also built in the early 1950s and needs comprehensive renovation to meet current standards, much less to serve students for the next fifty years. It has also been too small for years, with “temporary” classrooms that have long since become permanent. The bond would create a “like-new” expanded school while saving money by retaining the basic structure.
Question: Why do Millicoma and Sunset need work? Answer: Millicoma is now over fifty years old, with all of the same upgrade needs listed above. The classroom portion of Sunset was rebuilt following a fire, but that was more than twenty years ago—the age at which major building systems like roofs and heating and ventilation equipment need repair or replacement. Also, both Sunset and Millicoma were built for older students and need some interior remodeling to better suit 3rd-6th graders. Question: How do I learn more or get involved? Answer: Visit the BEST Committee on facebook at @cbbestbond or send an e-mail to email@example.com.