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For the past several years, administrators and the Echo School Board have been completing a facilities assessment. The facilities committee has taken a detailed look at each building, evaluating conditions, reviewing maintenance projects and costs and determining priority.
In January 2016, the school district hosted a community gathering to seek input from residents about the district's facilities. Those in attendance were asked to rate the proposed facility projects as best, better, good or fair ideas. 49% of the Best Votes went to School Safety, followed closely by 47% for improved classroom instruction. Regarding community use, 58% of those present said this was a good idea.
The priorities were summarized and then grouped into four categories:
- School Security & Student Safety
- Instructional facilities
- District facilities
- Community & Extended School Facilities
- Enrollment increase of 22%- 35 students
- Added a second Kindergarten Classroom
- Need more PE space
- Grant awarded for $4million, Match Required
Matching Grant Potential
On January 27, 2016, the Echo School District was chosen by the Oregon Department of Education to receive a matching grant of $4 million. Echo was one of only 10 districts statewide to be chosen based on the priority list grants that are part of the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching Program (OSCIM) under Senate Bill 447. The primary goal of SB 447 is to encourage communities to pass local school district General Obligation (GO) bonds to address the deferred maintenance problems present in Oregon's schools.
How does this grant work?
The grant money is contingent on the Echo School District passing a General Obligation Bond this May.
If voters in Echo pass the school bond on May 17, 2016, for $4 million, the state will give the district an additional $4 million, for a total of $8 million to be used for district schools.
If the bond does not pass, the school district will not get any money from the state.
The Echo School District passed a 20-year bond that began in 2003. Originally, this bond was $3.53 per $1,000 of assessed property value, but was re-financed in 2012 to save taxpayers money and is now costing $2.21 per $1,000. The cost of the new bond will be an increase of 81 cents per thousand and the length of the bond is extended 10 years. The new bond rate would be $3.02 per $1,000 assessed property value. For example, for a $100,000 home, the annual taxes would be $302.