Three Rivers School District seeks bond

Gwen Barringer
IVN Contributing Writer

This year’s May 21 Oregon Primary Election ballot will include a measure that, if passed, would allow Three Rivers School District to finally address many of their longstanding security and roofing concerns. To do this, Measure 117-118 would authorize the school district to issue $39 million in bonds for school capital costs. In exchange, the district would receive a $6 million matching grant.
While this may not seem like much of a hot-button issue on the surface, the bond issuance would also serve to increase local property taxes by 0.55 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. TRSD Superintendent Dave Valenzuela explained in an interview that although he acknowledges that the financial aspect may be daunting to some community members, the district has explored multiple options to increase student safety and structural longevity throughout the years, and have determined that passing this measure is truly in the best interest of current and future TRSD students.
Regarding the roofing, Valenzuela elaborated on the issue at hand, explaining, “Commercial roofs are good for 20 years; most of our roofs have been in service for 35 years or longer,” adding, “We have been repairing 20-plus-year-old roofs to extend their lives, but the roofs are flat. When we repair them, water just finds a new way into the building.”
Last year, the roof of Illinois Valley High School was replaced, but the cost was steep. Three Rivers School District not only needed to borrow $1.7 million to make this happen, but also pulled an equivalent amount out of their contingency fund. If Measure 117-118 passes, there will be no need for the district to repeat such a process in the near future, as approximately $35 million would be allocated towards reroofing the district’s 18 other buildings.
In terms of increasing student safety, Valenzuela stated, “The district has been working with local law enforcement to assess school buildings for weak points, where people could access classrooms or buildings without our knowledge.” These assessments have made the need for what Valenzuela calls “access control” glaringly apparent.
If Measure 117-118 passes, approximately $10 million would be utilized to increase student safety and mitigate the likelihood of interlopers on campus. The district has several future security measures in mind, including increased fencing, electronically controlled gates, and buzz in systems, where doors to the schools remain locked and staff has the ability to “buzz in” approved individuals. While district schools have what Valenzuela describes as “fairly robust” camera systems, if the measure passes and these buzz-in systems were implemented, the quality of school camera systems would also be upgraded.
In a statement from TRSD, the district expressed their belief that “a vote for this bond measure is not just a vote for our schools; it’s an investment in our community.”
Measure 117-118 will be included on the May 2024 primary election ballot.