SEASIDE — Driven by the threat of tsunami and evidence of crumbling Seaside schools, voters Tuesday rallied around the school district’s $99.7 million bond.
The district can now add another $4 million from the state’s Department of Education Office of Finance and Administration, which will bring total funding to more than $103 million. The district was required to pass the bond to receive the state funds, which match up to $4 million of a district’s bond levy.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our community for stepping forward and making a truly historic decision that will improve the lives of children and families for generations to come,” Seaside Superintendent-emeritus Doug Dougherty wrote supporters in a post-election email. “Seaside School District will also receive $4 million of additional capital funding from the state of Oregon.”
The state funds come after the school district was unable to access funding through the Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program to use to retrofit or relocate its schools because three of the district’s schools are sited within the tsunami inundation zone, Dougherty said this summer.
The Legislature last year authorized $125 million in state matching bonds to provide incentives to school districts seeking approval for capital projects. Estacada School District, Vernonia School District, and Gresham-Barlow School District — three of the school districts ahead of Seaside — did not pass their bonds, Dougherty said Wednesday.
Seaside was first on a waiting list to receive the matching funds, which were contingent on the district passing a bond in November.
As a result of this week’s bond vote, Gearhart Elementary School, Seaside High School and Broadway Middle School will relocate to a new campus location in the East Hills adjacent to Seaside Heights Elementary School.
Federal funds are unavailable to offset local school relocation costs because of a ban on federal earmarks, Dougherty said.
Dougherty said Wednesday the district’s first step will be to work toward expanding the city’s urban growth boundary for development of the campus. The state requires cities to maintain a line around their perimeters to moderate urban sprawl. If more land is needed, such as for the new school campus, land is zoned and annexed into the city.
Earlier this year, the city’s Planning Commission tabled discussions on a plan to increase the urban growth boundary for future residential housing. Seaside School District was purposely excluded from this plan so they could pursue an urban growth boundary expansion specifically to relocate its schools out of the tsunami inundation zone.