After more than a year of work by a district growth task force and several months of work sessions, the Oregon school board is positioned to vote later this month on going to referendum – probably in November – to fund two new schools.

It’s holding three more focus groups over the next nine days, and those will lead up to a special board meeting set for Monday, May 21.

At that meeting, the board will evaluate all information gathered, including community input. District superintendent Brian Busler said the board might select the “best option for moving forward at this meeting or shortly thereafter.”

The four options being considered all include building two new schools within the kindergarten to eighth-grade level to manage projected overcrowding in the intermediate and elementary grades in the next few years. The school configurations and location will depend on the option chosen by the school board.

The two new schools would be built in phases, which Busler said is a “cost-effective way to manage the future growth.” The first phase would likely be built by 2020 and the second phase by 2024. Because of the 2014 construction referendum, Oregon High School is projected to be able to accommodate increased capacity through 2030.

Community input

As the board’s work on choosing an option for a referendum winds down, they will have plenty of information to pick through.

The board established a Population and Growth Task Force in January 2017 to study population projections and facility capacity and create potential options to address growth. Led by district consultant Mark Roffers, the group, which included community members, met 12 times before delivering a final report in February.

Since then, the school board has taken the information to guide it during work sessions on planning for population growth.

The district has also gathered public comments through focus group sessions to give people a “baseline of information about the growth and provide an opportunity to share their thoughts on student growth and future schools to meet the growth,” Busler said.

The focus groups will meet three more times, then themes from the focus group sessions will be summarized and shared at the regular school board meeting May 14. Anyone interested in attending can get more information by calling 835-4003.

“Community members are telling us that it has been very helpful to learn about the growth projections, impact on schools, and potential options,” he told the Observer in an email Monday.

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.