BEAVERTON, Ore. — The May election is around the corner and there will be some big measures on the ballot. One of them will affect every school in the Beaverton School District.
The proposed $723 million, 30-year bond would mean various upgrades and projects for each of the 53 schools in the district.
Becky Tymchuk is the vice chair of the Beaverton School Board and also heads the district’s bond campaign. She said if the bond passes, the money would go into six major buckets to improve schools: modernization, deferred maintenance, security and other equipment, additional capacity, technology and seismic upgrades.
“We live in the Pacific Northwest, where we have been told for years and years and years that sometime, somewhere, there is going to be a large earthquake. It's just a matter of when,” Tymchuk said.
That’s why she said it’s imperative the district begin working to bring about 40 older schools up to code. Right now only 13 meet earthquake readiness standards, according to a 2019 seismic evaluation.
In a district video, a construction project manager for the district, Eric Bolken, used Legos to highlight the dangers of not doing seismic upgrades to older buildings.
“As the ground shakes in an earthquake, the structures have a tendency to tip over,” said Bolken in the video.
He demonstrated that adding a shear wall would help strengthen buildings, using the Lego set to to show the difference between a building without a shear wall and another that had one.
“Now as the same motion happens, the shear wall stays, the unsupported wall does not,” Bolken noted.
Bolken said the bond money will also go toward making sure newer buildings connected to older ones can collectively withstand an earthquake.
“We're trying to not only bring old structures up to current code, but also make sure that the whole building is working together,” he said.
“We have a moral imperative as a school board and as a school district to invest in safe buildings for our students and staff,” Tymchuk said.
The bond would also pay for complete rebuilds of Raleigh Hills K-8 School as well as Beaverton High School.
“We have Beaverton High School that’s 105 years old. Parts of it are still being used from 105 years ago,” said Tymchuk, who added that Raleigh Hills is about 75 years old.
If passed, for a property value assessed at $303,021, the estimated tax increase would be about $76 for the first year. The proposed bond would appear on taxpayers’ property tax bills for the next 30 years, but the construction projects would be complete within seven years.
“Because of the way in which the debt service schedule is built, the actual tax rate for this proposed bond will decline over time,” the district wrote on its website.
While the bond would mean different projects at all schools in the district, only the oldest schools with the most pressing need would get seismic upgrades. That covers six schools: Cedar Park, Five Oaks, Highland Park, Meadow Park, Mountain View and Whitford Middle Schools. More schools would be upgraded in years to come under different bond proposals.