July 15th, 2014

Dear Silver Falls School District Friends and Neighbors,

Last night, our school board approved a $24.9 million bond measure to fund construction projects that would allow the District to discontinue use of the current Eugene Field School building. It would also provide funding for general safety, security and technology upgrades for all District elementary schools. If passed by Silverton voters in November, the bond would pay for:

  • Construction of additional classrooms and a cafeteria at Robert Frost School to accommodate use by Eugene Field School students (K-3)
  • Construction of a covered play area at Mark Twain School to accommodate students grades 4 and 5
  • Reconstruction of the newer portion of the Schlador Street Campus to serve students grades 6 through 8 and to house Community Roots Charter School
  • Removal of the original Schlador Street school building that has been decommissioned for school use by the school board
  • Safety, security and technology upgrades for all District elementary schools

As you may be aware, we have spent the past year talking with members of our team and community and we feel that we now have a better understanding of what we need to serve students while being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. Many of you have asked us to consider a much simpler and more focused bond measure that makes Eugene Field School a top priority.

We heard your concerns and have taken them to heart, understanding that our last bond was trying to do too much and that our communication was not clear. This time, we have committed to a clear and simple plan that we believe will meet our most pressing facility needs.

In Oregon, there are two major funding sources for education. The state provides money collected from taxpayers to support general school operations including teacher and staff salaries and benefits as well as textbooks and supplies needed for everyday operations. Money to build and upgrade school facilities generally comes directly from community members who vote to adopt school bonds. The District then issues debt to fund construction and the debt is repaid over time with property tax dollars.

While our District team has also applied for nearly $1.5 million in other grant funding and is working to sell surplus property as another source of revenue, these efforts are not enough to address the needs of our aging school facilities.

In 2015, those of you who own property in Silverton are expected to pay $2.36 per $1,000 of assessed property value on existing bond issues that funded the completion of Silverton High School. If the new bond measure passes in November, the combined rate for existing and new bonds is estimated to be $3.00 or less per $1,000 of assessed property value over the life of the bonds.

If the bond passes, our District will also become eligible for additional state grants that would be used to make other District-wide improvements.

This bond measure is an important issue for our students and community and we are encouraging you to stay informed and ask questions during the next several months. Please don’t hesitate to call me, or any of our board members, if you have questions or would like to discuss this further. I can be reached at (503) 873-5303 or bellando_andy@silverfalls.k12.or.us. We will also be posting additional detailed information on our District website over the coming weeks.

Thank you for your on-going feedback and interest.

Andy Bellando