Bethel School District voters to decide bond fate

Bethel School District voters to decide bond fate

EUGENE, Ore. -- Brooke Cottle is a chairman on the bond support group, Friends of Bethel Schools. Like many other Eugene residents, the proud parent has high hopes for the November's election. 

They hope to pass a bond that Bethel school officials say could build 2 new campuses, update classrooms, beef up security systems and more--and not raise taxes.

KVAL's Tom Adams caught up with Cottle while walking around the outdated grounds of Clear Lake Elementary.

"These books have been around for decades," joked Cottle, leaving through a history book used in one of the classrooms. "Bill Clinton still listed as president."

Next door at Shasta Middle School, students are equipped with 36 computer work stations, 22 of which don't work. Shasta principal Greg James said that the machines can only handle web browsing and word processing at best.

Bethel District officials said that the solution to update the struggling Bethel Schools is on the November ballot, a $49.5-million bond issue. It would replace old computers, carpets, windows and more.

If passed, the bond would replace an old bond that is running out.  Bethel District spokesman Pat McGillivray explains the school board didn't want to put any more financial strain on people.

"So that's why they created this bond measure ... so it wouldn't increase anyone's current tax rate." said McGillivray.

The big ticket item in the bond is to replace a couple of aging elementary schools. Fairfield and Malabon Elementary Schools were built in the 1950's. Officials said that the buildings had a life-expectancy of 30 years.

"This is the main water line going into Fairfield," explained McGillivray, pointing to a piece of totally rusted out water pipe from one of the schools.

The Malabon and Fairfield replacement project is slated to cost a combined $26-million, just over half of the bond measure.

The proposed bond issue would also fix a big security issue. Right now if there's a lock-down at a Bethel campus, teachers have to step outside their classroom to lock doors.

"The best thing would be to lock straight from the inside of the room, so that no one has to expose himself to the outside," said Principal James.

Cottle hopes in the end, voters see the Bethel bond not as a burden but an opportunity.

"So we can go to our taxpayers and say if you're just willing to continue your investment in our Bethel schools, then we can do some really incredible things," said Cottle.