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Measure K passes
$21.9 million bond to help remodel most of Orland’s seven schools
Orland Unified School District officials are excited about the Tuesday passage of Measure K, a $21.9 million bond to be used to remodel most of its seven schools.
The measure passed with 56.4 percent in favor, just above the 55 percent margin the district sought, and it was enough to get it approved. Glenn County Elections figures show 2,069 “yes’’ votes cast compared to 1,603 “no’’ votes or 43.7 percent.
Now the district will be able to move forward and update its schools with new, energy-efficient windows, flooring, wiring for computers and a host of other improvements such as replacing 50-year-old portable classrooms, district officials said.
Mark Hendry, the OUSD board president, said, “We are pleased it has passed. It is good for the kids and the community.’’
Even though it passed by a close margin, Hendry said a bond oversight committee will be formed to monitor the spending, so public money will be spent on the improvements as outlined in the bond.
This committee will include members of the public and business communities who will examine the books. Bond money of this type cannot be spent on administrative or teacher salaries as that is against the law. The funds can only be used for the remodeling purposes stated.
Hendry added he did not feel there was a lot of public opposition to the bond, but “We live in a conservative county that tends to say ‘no’ to taxes so that is where the ‘no’ votes came from.’’
Still, he believes the remodeling and portable replacement provided by the bond is not extravagant.
Hendry also anticipates more growth will occur in the future despite the economic slowdown in housing construction now.
“We had a big spurt of houses,’’ he said. “I expect that to happen again.’’
Hendry added it probably will be two years down the road before substantial things happen, but the bond’s passage will position the district for growth as it comes.
Board member Vangie Porras said she was “happy and glad’’ Measure K passed. “I am proud of this community for passing it. I know it was not easy.’’
However, Porras said she appreciates the “investment’’ voters made in the community. The schools have needed repairs for a long time and it has taken a while to get things done.
Another Board member, Jack Martin, said he is very pleased the bond passed so the district can modernize its schools. “It’s great for the kids,’’ he said. Martin added he felt the vote would be close and it was, but he still believed the measure would pass.
OUSD Superintendent Chris von Kleist said “We feel honored the community has put its faith in this district by passing this bond measure. We will be prudent with the money and begin reviewing our critical facility needs and taking corrective action.’’
Von Kleist said people should start seeing some results this spring when old 50-year-old portable classroom buildings are removed and replaced with newer ones. Heat and air-conditioning also will be installed in Orland High School buildings that do not currently have them, and OUSD will follow its facilities master plan.
The superintendent added the Measure K money will fill in the pieces since OUSD has applied for and received some state advanced Critical Hardship funding and also has some deferred maintenance money to use on projects. Plus it will continue seeking grants from the state whenever they are available.
In a Jan. 24, interview with the Press-Register, von Kleist said OUSD’s schools are old and outdated with three of them more than 60 years old.
Many are overcrowded and in need of renovations and repairs, and the bond measure would help upgrade all schools in the district.
The bond will not build new schools and can only be used to upgrade the existing facilities.
The bond money will be used to improve electrical, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning systems, roofs and septic systems, he said.
It will be paid off during a 25-year period and will cost the average homeowner about $50 per $100,000 assessed valuation a year, or $4 a month, district officials said.
That figure is based on the median assessed value of local properties within the district’s borders — not the market value, and OUSD officials advise people to check their property tax statements for the current assessed value.
A tour of C.K. Price Middle School in January revealed the 1940s campus had walls of windows on some buildings, a small band room that required storage of drums on cabinets and a gymnasium without bleachers where parents have to use folding chairs just outside the out-of-bounds line to watch games.
Other schools like most of Orland High and Fairview School were built during the 1950s, and Mill Street School was built in the 1960s along with some additional classrooms at other campuses in the 1970s.