OSD board narrows down projects for potential referendum

Scott De Laruelle

Proposed major projects
Some larger referendum projects include (in rounded numbers):
• $8.2 million: two-story classroom addition at OHS
• $5 million: phy. ed addition/locker room renovation at OHS
• $4.4 million: three-station gym at OHS
• $3.2 million: locker room/storage addition at OHS
• $3 million: band/orchestra/vocal addition at OMS
• $2.4 million: new music room at OHS
• $2.3 million: reconstructed kitchen and cafeteria at Brooklyn Elementary
• $2.2 million: new fitness/weight room at OHS
• $1.8 million: STEM addition at Oregon Middle School


Oregon School Board members will decide in the next few weeks whether or not to hold a multi-million dollar capital projects referendum in November that could exceed $50 million.

In the meantime, with a sizeable amount of debt set to come off the district’s books, members have been weighing how much to ask for, and what projects should take priority. Aug. 25 is the last date for the board to approve a resolution to go to a Nov. 4 referendum.

At a referendum “work session” Monday night in preparation for an upcoming special meeting on Aug. 19, board members continued to whittle down a lengthy list of repairs, upgrades and new projects to include in the referendum. In recent weeks and months, the list has been pared to around $51 million of items that school officials have essentially agreed are among the highest priority.

District technology director Jon Tanner said narrowing down a list of projects to be funded by the referendum wasn’t easy, though.

“When it comes to student learning, it’s hard to say what’s not a priority,” he said.

Officials from district consultants Findorff Construction Company and Bray Architects said with debt coming off the books, the district is in a unique position to ask for around $40 million in a referendum without significantly raising the tax levy.

“It’s not typical,” said Christin Milsna of Findorff. “You’re in a unique and very positive position here.”

District finance director Andy Weiland said a $40 million capital projects referendum would amount to a rise of 2 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value, with zero valuation growth.  However, he said the village’s assessed value would likely see “positive growth” this year, possibly up to a 2.5 to 3 percent increase.

The board could pass a resolution to go to referendum at either the special meeting Aug. 19 or regularly scheduled Aug. 25 board meeting. Milsna said that once the board decides to go to referendum, members can still adjust “line items” before the vote, but the bottom line dollar amount cannot increase, though it could be reduced.  

“Some of the details can change a little bit,” she said.

As of press time, district officials said while the Aug. 19 special referendum meeting could be held as early as 6 p.m., no official time had been set.

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