Oregon district says it may have to shut down if bond proposal fails next month

April 11, 2024
The Gervais district is asking voters to approve a $28 million bond request on May 21; voters have defeated 8 requests since 1991.

Leaders of small school district in Oregon say they may have to shut down if voters fail to approve a bond request next month.

The Salem Statesman Journal reports that voters in the Gervais district have rejected eight bond requests since the last successful bond request in 1991. Over the last 33 years, the requests have ranged from $4 million to $38 million.

Now, the school board has scheduled a $28 million bond election on May 21. The money would pay for repairs at the district's three schools. If the proposal is defeated, officials say they will have to seriously consider dissolving the district.

“If we go 0 for 9, then the board’s stance is we’ve asked multiple ways and you’ve answered," Gervais superintendent Dandy Stevens said. "And that’s why they’re then also having conversations about closing the district,” 

The district has 870 students from Gervais and unincorporated communities along Interstate 5 between Salem and Woodburn. Another 400 students attend an online charter school the district hosts.

Stevens said if the bond fails again, the school board has indicated it would vote to close the district as early as June 2025.

If that would happen, Stevens said, the district would be divided among the five surrounding school districts— St. Paul, Woodburn, Mt. Angel, Silver Falls and Salem-Keizer. The Marion County Commissioners would have to approve the new boundaries, Stevens said.

Property owners that had been in the Gervais district would have to begin paying taxes into their newly assigned district.

"If we dissolve, wherever you property ends up being, you’ll be paying their bond and their regular rate,” Stevens said.

The tax rates in surrounding districts are significantly higher than the rates in the neighboring school systems.

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