The Bend-La Pine School District will try to sell a simple message – smaller classes will help little kids learn to read – as they put a “local option tax” on the Nov. 7 mail-in ballot, already crowded with a record deluge of statewide initiatives and everything from a presidential race to a Bend transportation levy.
The seven-member school board voted unanimously this week to send a proposal to voters that would add 50 new teachers to the district’s 750-teacher ranks in the fall of 2001. Under a complicated formula required by tax-limiting Measures 50 and 47, the local measure would raise at least $3 million a year for five years and cost up to $150 a year for the owner of a $150,000 home. But taxes for each property owner would vary, since the state tax lids separated assessed values from “real market” values.
The district (http://www.bend.k12.or.us/) is expecting to enroll 13,000 students this fall — up more than one-third, or 3,300 students over the past decade — and projections indicate the schools will add almost 300 new students each year for the foreseeable future.
At present, most first- to third-grade classes in Bend-La Pine have 23 to 25 students, Assistant Superintendent Al Frickey said Thursday. “It doesn’t sound huge, but it’s on the upper end of what makes good sense – especially for the mix of kids that exist today. Because we integrate at-risk kids and disabled kids into the regular program.” Frickey said it’s expected that at least 35 of the additional teachers would be added in those first three grades, reducing class size by about four kids per classroom.
District vows: New teachers aren’t temporary
Like most short-term tax levies, critics will be quick to ask what happens to those added teachers after five years. Since Oregon’s new property tax system allows growth to boost government and school budgets, Frickey said none of them would be let go, but instead be absorbed into the regular school district budget. The district already fills 50 to 75 teacher openings each year, as dozens retire or move elsewhere.
Others might question where the added teachers will teach, if all the school classrooms are now full. The district is opening the new High Lakes Elementary and Sky View Middle School this fall, and Summit High will open on Bend’s west side next year. Many will teach in those buildings, but with overcrowding expected in several elementary schools, more modular classrooms (like the temporary ones recently parked at Mountain View High School) are likely to be needed, pending remodeling or other new schools.
That begs the other key question: When will the school district be back again, asking voters for more buildings to house more students and more teachers? It won’t be long, Frickey acknowledged.
“This (fall’s levy) is going to meet an immediate need,” he said. “Very likely, we’ll be back before the electorate, I’d say in two to three years maximum,” for more money to build more new schools. “How many schools, we don’t know yet,” Frickey added.
Public call for smaller classes led to levy
Lots of factors weigh in to what the district has proposed and how voters are likely to greet the latest in what promises to be a series of school district requests. For example, Frickey said, “If we try to open Summit High School and we do so with existing teachers, we’re going to have to cut back on some course offerings.” Then there’s the universal reluctance to pay more property taxes and the almost as universal frustration over a local growth rate that seems unstoppable and even out of control.
But the bottom line remains the same: Testing has shown and the public has demanded that early readers get the help they need, because after that, it’s too late. School officials say the public interviews during the process of hiring Dr. Doug Nelson as new superintendent this year showed a strong citizen demand to do something about class sizes.
“We want to make sure every kid capable of reading at a third-grade level is doing so by the end of the third grade,” Frickey said.
Following are the complete drafts of material the school district has prepared for explaining the tax measure to voters:
Bend – La Pine Schools
Local Option Ballot Measure
The Bend-La Pine School Board, in partnership with the community, has developed a local option tax measure that proposes to add teaching staff to schools beginning in the 2001-2002 school year. This measure is intended to reduce class size in elementary schools and provide for a more comprehensive curriculum at middle and high schools.
Existing state funding levels for education have limited efforts by Bend-La Pine Schools to reduce class size. School district enrollment has grown by approximately 3,300 students or 34.4% since 1990. At the same time, the district has added 175 teachers, yet class size has remained essentially unchanged. According to state and local projections, district growth will continue at a rate of approximately 300 new students each year. The local option measure is proposed to fund additional teachers to meet growth needs and reduce class size.
The local option measure will be on the November 7, 2000 ballot. This is a mail-in election. Ballots will be mailed beginning October 20, 2000 and are due at the County Clerk’s office no later than 8:00 p.m. on election day. To be eligible to vote you must be registered by October 17, 2000. Registration materials are available at the County Clerk’s office and the School District Superintendent’s office.
This local option measure is expected to raise at least $3 million each year for five years and cost property taxpayers a maximum of $1 per $1,000 of property value. The local option may raise an additional $3 million during the five years on new property developments. That amounts to an estimated cost of $12.50 per month (or $150 per year) on a $150,000 home. Taxes for each property owner will depend on the difference between the real market value and assessed value of each property. A calculation sheet for your use is contained in this handout.
This material is pending review by the Office of the Secretary of State
2000 Bend-La Pine School Local Option Tax Measure
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What will the measure buy?
The proceeds of the local option tax measure will be used to hire additional teaching staff to reduce class size in elementary schools and provide for a more comprehensive curriculum at middle and high schools.
When will the teachers be hired?
The local option measure would provide additional teaching staff beginning in the fall of 2001.
Why did the School Board propose this measure?
Existing state funding levels for education have limited efforts by Bend-La Pine Schools to reduce class size. School district enrollment has grown by approximately 3,300 students or 34.4% since 1990. According to state and local projections, district growth will continue at a rate of almost 300 new students each year. The local option measure will fund additional teachers to meet growth needs and reduce class size.
Why reduce class size at elementary schools?
Research indicates children in smaller classes gain in student achievement as compared to children in larger classes.
How much will the local option tax measure cost?
The tax measure will cost up to $1 per $1,000 of property value. The exact tax on each property will depend on the difference between assessed value and real market value. In no case will it exceed the $1 per thousand rate.
How long will the local option tax be in effect?
This measure is a five year levy which would begin in the 2001-2002 tax year.
When is the election?
The election is a mail-in ballot scheduled for November 7, 2000. Ballots are due into the County Clerk’s office by 8:00 p.m. on that date.
Why is all this growth happening in Bend-La Pine, and why can’t the district stop it or slow it down?
As a school district, we cannot stop development. It is the policy of the Bend-La Pine School District to anticipate and respond to growth in enrollment.
Are we going to quit growing soon? If so, why build new buildings?
Incoming kindergarten classes continue to increase and the number of births in Deschutes County continues to rise. The District’s enrollment is expected to grow 17% in the next five (5) years, approximately a 1,400 student gain.
Is there room for the new teachers?
This fall the district opened High Lakes Elementary and Sky View Middle School. Next fall, Summit High School will open. These new facilities can provide classrooms for many of the proposed teachers. Overcrowding is anticipated in several elementary schools, so some new teachers may be housed in modulars and/or other temporary facilities.
Bend-La Pine School District
Local Option Tax Estimation
Use this worksheet to estimate your share of the Local Option levy you would have paid had this tax been in place for the 1999-2000 tax year.
Determine the Local Option “tax gap” on your property
Calculate the Measure 5 tax on your property
1. Enter the Real Market Value of your property
(“RMV” Total) from your property tax statement ________________
2. Multiply the amount on Line 1 by $5.00 ________________
3. Divide the amount on Line 2 by 1,000
This represents your Measure 5 tax limit ________________
Calculate the Measure 50 tax on your property
4. Enter the Assessed Value of your property
(“TAV Total) from your tax statement ________________
5. Multiply the amount on Line 4 by $5.48 ________________
6. Divide the amount on Line 5 by 1,000
This represents your Measure 50 tax ________________
7. Subtract the amount on Line 6 from the amount
On Line 3. If the amount is zero or less, enter -0-.
This represents the Local Option “tax gap” for your
Apply the Local Option rate to your property’s value
8. Enter the Assessed Value of your property
(“TAV” Total) from line 4 above ________________
9. Multiply the amount on Line 8 by $1.00 ________________
10. Divide the amount on Line 9 by 1,000. This represents
the Local Option Tax on your property. ________________
Determine the amount you would pay for the Local Option
11. Compare Line 7 with Line 10. Enter the smaller amount.
This is the amount you would pay for one year of the Local
Option levy using 1999 values. ________________
NOTE: The property values you use for this worksheet will be from your 1999 property tax statement and the tax rates have been rounded. Because property values change for 2000 and tax rates are carried to the 7th decimal place, the actual Local Option Tax may be different.
Source: Deschutes County Assessor’s Office – 6/19/00