Keeping Up with the 2017 Hillsboro School District BondHillsboro School District Bond with icon of a school house

By Maureen Barnhart, House District Leader-31, PCP

When presented with a ballot, I imagine that most voters experience the same mental review that I do: how well did the incumbents meet my expectations, and will new candidates be able to keep their promises?

How do we review similar questions when faced with requests for levies and bonds?

In November of 2017 the patrons of the Hillsboro School District (HSD) passed a bond for construction of new buildings and improvements on the current structures. Success can be measured when seeing the new schools, and the additions and obvious improvements on the existing buildings.

However if, like me, you no longer have students in school (grades K-12), there is a whole menu of positive impacts for your tax dollar that may not be as obvious.  The bond provides money to improve the safety and security for our children in the buildings and on buses, but also serves the community and our values:

  • New construction, including new gyms at eight elementary schools, are being built to standards of “Immediate Occupancy” (after an earthquake), including sufficient restrooms in the case that these buildings become the shelter in an emergency
  • Restrooms reconfigured to meet changing societal expectations of what “gender” means
  • Older buildings (Reedville ES, West Union ES) brought into ADA compliance with added elevators
  • Improved and more efficient lighting, including solar tubes
  • Environmental improvements to some of our dark buildings: a more welcoming environment encourages attendance and helps support kids staying in school, especially at those transitions at which students might drop out
  • Maintenance of and improved safe walking routes to schools, safer parking and bus pick up/drop off
  • Running conduit toward the installation of charging stations in front of all parking areas to support EVs, and with an eye to future electric buses as well as installing stations.
  • An additional bus barn will be constructed at Liberty HS to place buses on the east side of the District, reducing miles driven in the course of transporting our students. The building will accommodate classes toward the education of students in maintenance of electric buses when that becomes reality
  • Construction of buildings and grounds to support high school programs in the field of sustainable agriculture (Liberty HS)

The journey is not mapped out in a straight path: the contractor has faced tariffs on steel, and dwindling supplies of sand for concrete. By carefully monitoring and adjusting to unexpected expenses and savings, the budget so far looks very good for the life of the 2017-2022 bond, with funds (as is customary) to support maintenance after the construction is complete.

If you have ever questioned the need for a bond, please do consider reviewing the enhancements to public education by reviewing the progress of the current bond. In Hillsboro, that information can be found on the HSD website here.  You should feel good about voting for bonds in the future by understanding the value received for support of the current bonds.

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Maureen Barnhart is an HDL in HD 31, a patron of the HSD, and serves on the Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee for the Hillsboro Bond Measure.