The Lebanon school board is continuing to examine its options for a potential bond measure in 2022.
Lebanon Community Schools has the opportunity to receive between $4 million and $8 million in state matching funds if voters approve a bond to pay for necessary maintenance and improvements. The question is how large a bond — and how high a property tax rate — voters will be willing to approve.
The board members discussed the issue during their public session on June 10. The discussion centered on the Lebanon Community Pool, which needs extensive repairs. The price tag for a full remodel of the pool is about $9.5 million.
Superintendent Bo Yates asked the board if they support the pool project in that form.
“What I need … is some direction on if you feel comfortable with us moving forward in this process at that price point, where that is going to be a total rehab,” Yates said.
School board chair Tom Oliver said the decision will ultimately fall to the voters. He is interested in hearing from the community before putting the bond on the ballot. The district is currently working to hire a polling firm which will survey voters later this summer or in the early fall.
“We need to figure out where that fits in the priorities and in the budget,” Oliver said of the pool. “In the greater sense of things, we have to determine if we’re going to move forward asking the community if they want to approve a bond. Ultimately, it’s not our choice, it’s the community’s.”
Oliver said the district may need a “Plan B” if voters appear unwilling to approve a bond big enough to complete the immediate maintenance needs at the schools and remodel the pool.
“We know that facility needs attention. It’s not going to continue to exist in the current state,” Oliver said. “The position that I think we heard pretty clearly from the Aquatics District, and their professionals they brought in to help, was ‘Yeah, you could do something less than this, but you’re throwing good money after bad.’ I think that’s a reasonable argument. What I’m not certain of is if we have that good money to put to it.”
Board member Todd Gestrin said he is concerned that including the $9.5 million in pool funding could lead to rejection of the bond. He said his priority is maintenance at the schools.
“As a board, to be responsible fiscally, we need to look at what are all the maintenance items, how critical are they, what is the time frame that they need to be done by?” Gestrin said.