What Are the Draft Recommendations?
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See below for answers to some of the common questions we’ve heard during our Tell Us What You Think community listening sessions. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to submit additional questions for the FAQ.
Bethel School District recently passed a bond for Cascade Middle School. It is similar to the Silverton Middle School project in many ways, both in phasing strategy and costs. Wenaha Group, who is assisting the District with pre-bond activities, looked at Cascade MS as a comparison. Some details of that comparison are below.
- It is common when replacing a school to build the new building on the same site adjacent to the old building, move the staff/students into the new building, and then demo the old building. This is considered the most cost effective way of constructing a new school building, if you have the room on the property. Fortunately SMS does have enough room for this strategy.
- This strategy is exactly what Bethel SD did at Cascade MS. They built a new building adjacent to their old building and kept their music room addition, then demo’d the old building. You can see that in their design reveal video here around 8 minutes in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=la7slegPZUE&t=42s.
- The other cost-saving decision we are employing at SMS is to keep the existing gym and locker room buildings and do a light remodel of those areas. They are in good condition compared to the other Middle School buildings. The gym/locker room received a recent grant-funded seismic upgrade and that grant funding stipulates that the District keep the gym/locker room operational. That’s money the District saves by not building new. By keeping new construction contained on one side of the site at a time, we can easily secure the construction site and minimize disruptions to staff and students. This is common on school construction projects.
- It’s hard to tell from Bethel’s website their exact construction schedule, but our guess is it is similar to what we have planned for SMS, especially when Bethel is using an experienced school builder like Todd Construction. The SMS construction schedule is planned for 27 months from May 2025-August 2027, but that is inclusive of the new building, renovation of existing gym, the site work, and the demolition of the existing buildings. The construction of the new building is the first 15 months of that schedule so the new building would open in Fall 2026. The rest of the schedule is dedicated toward demo and abatement of the existing buildings and the site work following demo.
- Building a new Middle School on purchased property would be more expensive than the current plan. Additional costs would include the property purchase amount and significantly more road development and utility extensions, depending on the site. Building on new property would likely trigger requirements for traffic impact analysis for road/traffic upgrades. And the District would still be faced with demo or stuck with the old, unusable Middle School campus.
- Wenaha Group analyzed costs on Cascade MS as a comp to make sure our SMS assumptions were on track.
- To compare Cascade MS financially to Silverton MS we had to escalate their 2021 bid/project costs so that it is apples to apples with the Silverton MS timeline. When Wenaha did this, we learned that Cascade was about $620 per square foot. We evaluated two other comps from Corvallis and West Linn-Wilsonville that were $680-760/SF. Silverton MS’s budget is $655/SF, so that is telling us that we are well in the range of what neighboring communities are doing. All of these comparative numbers necessarily include the “soft costs” which include things like architect and engineering, inspection costs, permits, furnishings, technology equipment, etc.
Can bond funds leave the Silver Falls School District or be spent on things not in the projects listed?
No. All funds raised by the bond will go to improve or replace schools in the Silver Falls School District, and they can only be spent on projects approved by voters.
A bond is typically the way school districts pay for major construction projects like building new schools and upgrading existing ones. The bond can only pay for these projects and legally cannot be used for operating costs, salaries, retirement benefits, or other expenses.
No. The district will continue to maintain school properties but the proposed projects will not occur.
A bond issue is used by a public school district to finance school facility projects or other capital projects. Measures are placed on the ballot along with information about the specific projects that would be completed by the district if approved by the voting public.
How will the school district address any concerns or feedback from the community throughout the process?
We value the input of our community members and are committed to keeping you informed and engaged throughout the entire process. We will establish various communication channels such as community meetings, this website, online surveys, newsletters, and social media updates to keep everyone up to date on the progress of the bond proposal and, if passed, the bond-funded projects.
Additionally, we will establish a Bond Oversight Committee made up of community members, educators, and other stakeholders to provide feedback and ensure transparency throughout the process.
We welcome and encourage any concerns or feedback from our community and will take it into account as we move forward.
The current draft bond proposal is for $138 million.
This is subject to change, as the District’s Bond Advisory Committee (BAC) meets a final time in April to finalize their Bond Proposal to the School Board, and the School Board ultimately will make a decision on whether to place a Bond on the ballet, and for how much, at a future School Board Meeting.
The proposed bond would replace Silverton Middle School and perform needed maintenance and repairs on all other district schools. The specific projects vary by school, but can be viewed on the “Impact By School” tab of this website.
If the bond passes, a Bond Oversight Committee will be created. This committee will include community members. More details about this committee will be available in the coming months.
The District worked with construction professionals experienced in Oregon school construction to develop cost estimates for the Middle School replacement and remodel work at the other schools. The project budget includes an industry-standard increase for inflation (called escalation in the construction industry) to the planned construction start date in 2025. The project budget also includes an owner’s contingency to manage unknowns during the course of the project.
After bond passage, the design team will be tasked with designing projects to their budget. Cost estimates will be performed at each major design milestone. If estimates are trending over the budget amount, the team will engage in “value engineering” (cost reductions) to bring design into alignment with budget prior to construction. The Middle School project will be managed to its budget and under no circumstances will the District allow the Middle School project to draw funds away from projects at other schools.
I attended a Tell Us What You Think session for my school and saw the proposed investment for us, but would like to see that for other schools. Is that available?
Yes! We’ve recently updated our district map and proposed projects flier to include the proposed investment amounts by school. You can find the map above or the flier in the “Impact By School” tab of this site.
What is included in the project budget for the Middle School? Is the budget in alignment with other public construction projects?
The Middle School’s $75 million project budget includes:
- Phased construction to occur in 27-month schedule (May 2025-August 2027)
- Demolition and abatement of existing buildings (excluding gymnasium/locker rooms)
- 91,000 SF new construction
- A light remodel of 24,000 SF existing gymnasium/locker rooms
- Reconfiguration of play fields and back-of-house spaces, replacement of tennis courts
- Site work including driveways and parking lots, sidewalks, stormwater, utilities, electrical upgrades, landscaping, etc.
- Architectural, engineering, project management, permit/inspection fees and other associated costs
The Silverton Middle School project budget is roughly $652 per building square foot, inclusive of all items listed above. We have compared this to similar recent school construction projects in the area at Bethel School District, West Linn-Wilsonville School District, and Corvallis School District. All three districts put their projects out to bid in 2021-2022. When their project costs are escalated to a 2025 bid date to match Silver Falls’ target bid date, these schools had project budgets ranging from $620-$760 per square foot. The proposed Silverton Middle School project budget is comparable to recent project costs of our neighboring districts.
None of this information should be considered tax advice – if you have questions about your own tax rate, we encourage you to work with an appropriately credentialed accounting professional, or to contact the County Assessor’s office directly.
Oregon law provides significant tax subsidies for farms. This varies based on the use of the land (bare land, land with structures, etc.). Tax rates for specific farms should be verified on a case by case basis, but we do not believe our local farmers will shoulder most of the burden of the proposed bond.
See below for individual fliers for each school. Note that fliers are not available on this site until after they’ve been presented in-person at the listening session for that school community.
For other resources related to the bond process, see the following links: