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Crook County schools pitch $33.5 million measure

By Joe Burns
Published On: Apr 30 2013 08:29:43 PM CDT

Crook County School Districts are asking taxpayers for a $33.5 million bond measure in the May election. NewsChannel 21 explores what the measure would pay for.

PRINEVILLE, Ore. -

Three Central Oregon school districts are asking taxpayers to approve money measures in the May election.  

Crook County will ask for a $33.5 million bond to build a new school and renovate others.

The last successful bond measure happened 17 years ago, and this one could be an uphill battle too, considering this: most of the people NewsChannel 21 talked to on the streets of Prineville Tuesday didn't know anything about it.

"For the last 16 years, I wish I had the money to get some of these things done," said Deen Hylton, the Crook County School District's facilities director.

Hylton sees first-hand the need for repairs.

"As you look around, you can see where the tiles failed," said Hylton. "It's patchy all over. The newer tile is cracking and all that. To tear this up, we would have to get into the asbestos, which is really expensive.

"There was, at one time, three instructors in here (a multi-purpose room), multiple students, trying to have separate lessons," he said. "And they took carpeting up on the wall to try help deaden the sound."

"The rooms are uncomfortable -- just a lot of reasons to invest into a new school, instead of fixing these two old buildings," Hylton said.

A 2012 study showed the district needs more than $40 million for repairs.

But the school district's facilities committee, which looked at different options, thought it would be best to invest in a new school than to renovate the two oldest schools, Crooked River and Ochoco elementary.

"When the facilities committee looked at it for a year, they are thinking, 'Why not build a new school for $18 million? We can get a brand new school,'" Hylton said. "We close these two schools and have a school that's going to last 50 years."

Some in the community don't see the need.

"If the roof leaks, fix it -- it's cheaper than building a brand new school," said Joe Waibel, a Prineville resident. "If the floor needs to be repaired, repair it. I don't think they need a complete brand new school."

But others believe the schools are long overdue for more funding.

"They are really old and run down," said a Prineville resident. "They've been unmaintained for a long time. They could use the money to fix them up or add new ones."

"I worked in the school districts in Sandy and Gresham, and I know what goes on in the school districts," said Mazie Kyle, another Prineville resident. "And the waste that goes in on them/ But I do think they do need a new school."

From leaking roofs to uneven flooring, unsecured buildings and classrooms in the most unusual places.

"This is currently a classroom for math that used to be a girls' locker room," Hylton said. "All the more reason to get instructional upgrades on the classroom and for building a new school."

The bond would cost about $103 per year for someone with a home assessed at $100,000.

If the bond passes, all Crook County schools would get some sort of renovations.

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