The Eugene School District 4J bond measure, Measure 20-297, will be decided by voters on November 6, 2018. If the bond measure passes, it would repair schools, improve security, update technology and learning materials, support career education, address overcrowding and replace three aging school buildings.
Public school district bond issues finance capital improvements such as school buildings, technology and curriculum. Bond measures are placed on the ballot along with information about the capital improvements that would be funded if the bond measure is approved by the voting public. If bonds are authorized by voters in the school district, they will be repaid by property taxes over time.
The Eugene School District bond measure is Measure 20-297. It is at the end of the ballot, and for many voters it will be on the back side.
All registered voters who live within the boundaries of Eugene School District 4J are eligible to vote on the bond measure.
Owners of property within the Eugene School District boundaries.
If the bond measure is approved by voters, it would provide $319.3 million for school improvements. $8 million in state matching funds also have been granted to the school district, to be received only if the bond measure passes.
Property tax rates would increase by $0.66 per $1,000 of assessed value, to a total rate of $2.25 per $1,000 assessed value for Eugene School District bond debt. For the average homeowner in the district, with the median assessed property value of $204,000, property taxes would increase by about $11 a month or $135 a year. “Median” is the midpoint and means that half of the homeowners in 4J would pay more and half would pay less.
If the bond measure is not approved by voters, the property tax increase would not occur and the bond tax rate would decrease by about $0.20 to $1.39 per $1,000 assessed value. The district would not receive the proposed bond funds or the $8 million in committed state matching funds to pay for school improvements.
Without bond funds, money for repairs, maintenance, curriculum and technology would come out of the budget for classroom education. The district would not be able to replace aging school buildings, add classrooms to address overcrowding, improve security at all schools, or complete other major capital improvements.
4J schools are aging. Most are 50–70+ years old, built between 1945 and 1968. Some are even older.
If the bond measure is approved by voters, it would replace three school buildings and would extend the life of other aging schools that previous generations invested in building, by replacing, repairing and improving major building systems such as roofing, electrical, plumbing, lighting, heating and ventilation systems. Replacing old, less efficient and high-maintenance equipment would save operating costs each year, allowing those dollars to be redirected to classrooms.
Additionally, interest rates are low now, so any bonds that are issued would have lower total costs to taxpayers. And the district has been granted $8 million in state matching funds that would be received only if this bond measure passes.
The bond measure was developed in a thoughtful, community-engaged process over more than 18 months of study and deliberation.
The bond measure development process began with an assessment of the district’s facility and materials needs. More than $1 Billion in capital needs were identified in the district, including facility repairs and improvements, capacity to address overcrowding, security and safety, technology and more.
The school board held numerous work sessions, discussions in board meetings, and community forums to discuss potential bond-funded projects with community members, district staff and school facility experts. The district conducted a series of eight community forums and three surveys to help inform the development of an update to the district’s long-range facilities plan and the project list for a bond measure that would address some, but not all, of the identified capital needs.
At the end of this thorough and thoughtful process, the school board on August 15 unanimously approved referring a $319.3 million bond measure to voters on the November 6, 2018 election ballot.
If the bond measure passes, it would:
Making sure schools are safe and secure for students is a top priority. Today we build schools with a focus on school security and student safety. We aim to have safe, welcoming environments with high visibility for supervision and controlled access to our schools.
However, most of our school buildings are more than 50 years old, designed for an earlier era, when easy access, multiple entrances and out-of-view locations were standard.
If the bond measure is approved, new schools (North Eugene High School, Edison Elementary School and Camas Ridge Elementary School) would be built with modern security measures.
Every 4J school would receive various security improvements depending on the need, such as building security fencing, single point of entry, controlled access, secure check-in and out technology, shatter-proof glass protection, security cameras and one-button lockdown.
Simply speaking, career technical education—also known as CTE—is high school courses and pathways that prepare students for work. Engaging, hands-on CTE learning helps prepare students for college or the job skills of the future. Bond funds would build out CTE programs at all 4J high schools with facilities and equipment for programs such as computer science, health occupations, engineering, high-tech manufacturing, and more.
These are not the vocational programs of yesteryear. Today’s CTE courses are more academically rigorous and focus on preparing students for careers in the modern economy, most of which are typically associated with associate or bachelor’s degrees or beyond.
Increasing Oregon students’ high school graduation rate is a top priority. In the class of 2017, the on-time graduation rate for 4J students who completed at least two CTE courses in a pathway was 89%, 15 percentage points higher than for non-CTE students. Students succeed in high school and graduate on time at a much higher rate when they are engaged in career technical education.
Gender equity in athletics is required by federal law (Title IX / Title Nine). The district is proactively working to assess and address athletic gender equity and has undertaken a review of athletic facilities and programs at every high school with an expert outside consultant.
4J’s four comprehensive high schools all were built in the 1950s and 1960s, before Title IX, with more athletic facilities for boys’ sports than girls’ sports. Many improvements have been made since then to increase equity in athletic facilities for girls and boys, but more work needs to be done.
The bond measure would provide funding for improvements to increase equal access for girls and boys to equal-quality school sport facilities at all four neighborhood high schools. In addition, if the bond measure is approved, the new North Eugene High School would be an opportunity to model gender equity in athletics in the first new high school constructed in the Eugene–Springfield metro area since the passage of Title IX in 1972.
North Eugene High School’s 1957 building was identified in a thorough assessment of all district facilities as being in the poorest condition of the district’s four high schools. It is not well conﬁgured to meet the needs of modern high school learning environments, due to existing conditions such as small classrooms and lack of ﬂexible learning spaces.
The new North Eugene building would be designed for safety and security, efficiency and sustainability, and modern teaching and learning including career technical education.
The original building would be renovated and repurposed. Although the 1957 facility and its small classrooms are outdated for a modern high school, the building is still usable space and is able to be refurbished to serve other school programs well.
Edison Elementary School, built in 1926, is 4J’s oldest school building and is in poor structural and seismic condition. Camas Ridge Elementary School’s 1949 building is the second oldest and poorest condition elementary school. Both are overcrowded, inefficient, and were not designed for today’s school programs.
The new Edison and Camas Ridge buildings would be designed for school safety, modern seismic standards, efficiency and sustainability, 21st century teaching and learning activities, and to fit their neighborhoods.
The new Camas Ridge and Edison buildings would be built for a capacity of 450 students, to align to modern educational standards and ease overcrowding in neighborhood elementary schools. The new North Eugene High School would be built with a capacity of 1,200 students, the same as the original building, to align to educational standards and serve the current 1,000 student enrollment with room to grow.
The new high school and one or more elementary schools would be designed for resiliency to support community recovery from natural disasters—from wind and ice storms to earthquakes—with key areas built to an upgraded seismic standard and other resiliency upgrades such as power generation.
School programs such as alternative schools, special education programs, and other school support programs and offices are sometimes relocated to address changing space needs.
If the bond measure is approved by voters, the new facility for North Eugene High School would be built on the west end of the school property, where the old Silver Lea school building is located now. One of the two alternative elementary schools currently housed in the Silver Lea building, Yujin Gakuen Japanese Immersion Elementary School, would relocate.
During construction, Yujin Gakuen would move to the Kelly Middle School site and connect K–8 with the middle school level Japanese immersion program already located at Kelly. The elementary school classrooms would be located in one area of the school building, separated from middle school classes, and would have a separate entryway, playground and appropriately sized facilities. The building have suitable and sufficient space for the elementary school program if some existing classrooms move to other areas of the building. Corridor Elementary School had been planned to move to a wing of the existing North Eugene High School building. However, facing significantly changed economic circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic and Corridor’s decreased enrollment, the school board decided to close the small alternative elementary school at the end of the 2019–20 school year.
After the new high school was built, the current building could be renovated to house other programs. Space for programs would be available at the original North Eugene High School building and at the Kelly Middle School building. The district would work with YG and other school communities to determine the best location and plans to support their future.
Funds are included in the proposed bond measure to renovate facilities for these and other program relocations, such as the planned expansion of the Chinese immersion program, and the relocation of the ECCO alternative high school program to the Bailey Hill site to co-locate with the Natives program.
Elementary student enrollment in the Sheldon region is growing. Some elementary schools in the region are already overcrowded and all are projected to be over capacity in the next few years. A previous bond measure funded phase one improvements at Gilham Elementary School. If this bond measure is approved, it would fund phase two of the school’s master plan, which would enclose the covered play area to add gym space and add classrooms to accommodate the region’s growing population.
Under Oregon’s tax law limitations, communities have only two options for local school funding: Bonds for capital improvements such as buildings, and local option levies for operating costs.
Capital bonds and local option levies are used for different things.
Bonds are for Buildings, Buses and Books — capital improvements.
Levies are for Learning — school operating costs.
Capital bonds pay for facilities and long-lasting capital improvements, including:
Bond measures are for a specified amount of funding and must be used to pay for capital costs, not for teachers or other operating costs. The last bond measure for Eugene School District was in 2013.
Local option levy dollars pay for educational programs and day-to-day operations of schools, including:
Levies are not typically used for significant construction and must be renewed in five-year intervals. The most recent levy that local voters approved for 4J schools will expire in June 2020 if it is not renewed before then.
By law, when voters pass a capital bond measure, the money may only be spent on capital improvements such as facilities, equipment, curriculum and technology. Bond money may not pay for teachers and school programs. However, when capital costs are paid for with bond dollars, more of the general fund can go to teaching and learning.
The general education taxes property owners pay each year (less than $5 per $1,000 of assessed property value, as mandated by Measure 5 in 1990) are allocated to school districts throughout the state. This money goes into the district’s general fund to support operational costs like employing teachers and support staff, utilities and supplies.
In Oregon, the state does not provide funding for capital expenses such as building or renovating schools. It’s up to each local community to maintain, update and build schools, and provide other capital improvements such as equipment, curriculum and technology. In order to raise funds for school improvements, residents within a school district’s boundaries must vote to place an additional tax on their property. This is why school facilities and conditions vary widely from one community to the next.
4J has been awarded an $8 million matching grant for capital costs under a grant program recently implemented by the state. If voters pass the bond, the district will receive $8 million from the state to put toward construction costs.
Schools receive 40% of the eligible tax revenues from marijuana sales—about $34 million last year statewide. The State School Fund, which includes lottery funds and marijuana taxes, is distributed on a weighted per-student basis to Oregon’s 197 school districts serving nearly 600,000 students.
The Oregon Legislature included an estimate of marijuana revenues for schools in the $8.2 billion State School Fund allocation for the 2017–19 biennium, so marijuana tax revenues currently being distributed do not represent “new” money—it is money that was anticipated.
Because of the way the state’s funding for K–12 education is calculated and structured, at this time, marijuana tax revenue is not expected to significantly change the amount of money Eugene School District 4J receives from the state.
Here’s a comparison of 2018 bond tax rates for Oregon’s 20 largest school districts.
The way schools are financed in Oregon is on a “pay it forward” model. Young people are our future workforce, homeowners, and taxpayers. Their education is the foundation that prepares them for their next step into adulthood and their future participation in our community.
If you ever had kids in school or were a student yourself, people before you paid for the schools you and/or your child(ren) attended. Similarly, the current residents of Eugene School District 4J help pay for the schools we have now and those we build and improve in the future throughout the time they live here.
As new residents move into the district’s attendance area, they assume these taxes as well. Regardless of where you live in Oregon, you will be paying taxes to support Oregon public education and the schools in that area.
Yes. The district has spent previous bond dollars as planned and has completed previous building projects on time, on budget, and on scope. The bond review committee for the district’s previous bond measure noted in its official report that “The district is using bond funds carefully, responsibly and efficiently. The district has…maintained the quality of the new school buildings while controlling the costs of the construction projects. The district is bringing the building projects in on time and on budget while maintaining the project vision.”
For 31 consecutive years, Eugene School District 4J has been recognized for excellence in financial reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association. The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting is awarded to public agencies that “go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure.” This strengthens the district’s reputation and provides the best options for bond and borrowing rates. Copies of the district’s annual financial documents are transparently available to the public on the district’s website.
Most of 4J’s schools are more than 50 years old. Some are approaching the end of their useful life. These older buildings have high maintenance costs and are inefficient and costly to heat.
What’s more, our older school buildings were designed for an earlier era. They don’t support modern teaching and learning activities. They were not designed with safety and school security in mind. They don’t easily integrate modern technology that is integral to a child’s education today.
Schools built for an earlier age can have some of their condition issues repaired, but their lifespan will still be shorter and their basic design will still be outdated.
By law, bond money may not pay for teachers and school programs. Bond money may only be spent on capital improvements such as facilities, equipment, curriculum and technology.
That said, the bond would make some improvements to help with large class sizes if it is approved: (1) New classrooms would be built at Gilham Elementary School to relieve overcrowding in the growing Sheldon region; (2) Edison and Camas Ridge elementary schools have been overcrowded and the new buildings would be built bigger to align to modern education standards and provide for current and future student enrollment; and (3) When capital costs are paid for with bond dollars, more of the general fund is able to go to teaching and learning, including addressing class sizes.
If approved by voters in November, the bond would fund improvements at every 4J school and for every student. Please visit 4j.lane.edu/bond/projects and review the map to see some of the work that would be done at each building in the district.