School construction (copy)

The main entrance of Caldera High School in Bend under construction in 2020.

Portland State University released estimates last week that Bend now has more than 100,000 people. You may be excited. You may be pained.

For the Bend-La Pine Schools, growth has been a continual challenge. The district has been looking at whether it might need to ask voters again for help.

Before 1990, the district had 14 schools. Since 1990, it has built 18 new ones. The square footage has more than doubled.

It built four new elementary schools and one middle school from a $44.5 million bond vote in 1991.

It built one elementary, one middle and one high school from a $57.5 million bond vote in 1998.

It built two elementary schools from a $47.8 million bond vote in 2001.

It built three elementary schools from a $119 million bond vote in 2006.

It built one elementary, one middle and made improvements across the district from a $96 million bond vote in 2013.

It built one elementary, one high school and made improvements across the district from a $268 million bond vote in 2017.

Voters have failed to support school bonds in Bend only once since 1990. That was in 1996.

If you look back over that timetable, maybe we are getting close to time again for another one. And the price tag hasn’t gotten cheaper. Taxpayers are still paying off the last three bonds, though some of them have been refinanced at much better rates.

The Bend district’s story isn’t just growth, growth, growth. The pandemic did cause a dip in enrollment. One way to see that is in class size. It’s below what the district anticipated. The district targeted a class size of 22 for kindergarten and first grade. It’s at 18. For grades 9-12, the district targeted a class size of 34. It’s at 29.

With Bend’s steady growth, though, there will be a need for more schools eventually. And the way K-12 school funding works in Oregon, state funding pays for classroom instruction. For new schools, for improvements, for major maintenance, that comes from voters willing to invest in education and the future of their community.

Bend-La Pine isn’t asking for anything, yet. The district is still looking at the outlook for its facilities for the next 20 years. It asked Portland State University for detailed population projections for its schools.

A new bond request may or may not come next year.

It is coming.

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(3) comments

Transitory Inflation

We need a CRT magnate school. It will prevent the wingnuts from spreading out to much.

65858

Let's start with something really simple; maybe a "spelling and grammar" magnet school. Then you do you...

Transitory Inflation

Touché! And happy Thanksgiving.

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