It looks as if the Oregon School District is headed to a November referendum to build new schools. And the clock is ticking on the window to get a plan together and get feedback for the board to vote on a plan – hopefully this spring.

Monday, the board held the first of what will likely be several lengthy “works sessions” on that possibility. For more than two hours, they discussed the district’s growth task force recommendation to build at least two new schools, which the task force says are needed to ease overcrowding that’s expected as soon as 2020.

School board president Steve Zach said one consensus of the board so far is construction will have to be accomplished by 2020, and another is that November 2018 “looks to be the most feasible” option of going to referendum.

“None of this is set in stone but is our current thinking as we proceed to get feedback,” he said. “We’ll be reporting and talking about this regularly now for the next couple months and go forward, knowing we probably want to shoot for making a decision in May if we’re going to referendum (this fall).”

Superintendent Brian Busler called the session “an excellent discussion.”

The group reviewed considerations the board prioritized in the decision-making process. District officials also discussed their communication engagement plan with the community and school staff.

“The feedback has been favorable as we plan for future growth,” he wrote in an email to the Observer.

Busler said the district anticipates finalizing a communication plan in the next few weeks, including chances for people to share their thoughts and ideas on our future growth. He said this feedback will “help shape the final plan that could be brought to district voters as early as November of 2018.”

He said that will likely be done with small focus groups, and possibly a community-wide survey. In the meantime, he told board members to expect more long work sessions, particularly if the plan is to go to referendum yet this fall, as appears to be the case.

“If there’s something you want us to explore or administratively present, we’re happy to do that,” he told board members. “There are no silly questions, there are no silly requests for information.”

The board meets next Monday, March 12.

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at

scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.