Ashlanders are lucky. We live in a great community, have an amazing quality of life and we also benefit from the long legacy of investment in the future of our children. One reason our family chose Ashland was for the schools, and we haven’t been disappointed. However, as much as Ashlanders support our schools at the local level, the state of Oregon doesn’t provide funding for capital repairs and renovations, so a bond issuance is needed to insure our schools remain healthy, safe and secure. With the current bond about to expire, this new bond, on the ballot in November, will simply replace the old one. It doesn’t represent a new tax burden for Ashlanders.
This spring I participated on both the school bond and the School Board budget committees. It was refreshing to hear that all parties represented, including community members, teachers, unions and school board members, understand and are committed to finding the best way to serve the interest of all students. There were many “wants” on the agenda but everyone was aware of the limited amount of money to achieve the essential goals. Superintendent Kelly Raymond said the school district has implemented a system that requires schools to justify spending. “As we move forward, we will start budgeting based on what our goals are and how it aligns with our strategic planning.” The school district’s belief in the importance of core value budgeting and being fiscally prudent is essential, needed and reassuring.
How we prioritize and spend our money is a statement about our values. There is no doubt that this bond measure aligns with the values and guiding principles we heard from all corners of the Ashland community. As a retired finance executive, I understand that a bond now will save money in the long-term as we address buildings that are currently draining resources from our yearly budget. In fact, given the school district’s excellent bond rating and near-record low borrowing rates, it’s difficult to imagine a better time in the future to raise money for these pressing needs. The time is now.
Strong schools affect us all — people with no children in the school system benefit from our long-standing commitment to education as well. Real estate prices in towns with strong education systems are higher than in other communities and more people with diverse backgrounds, educational and cultural experiences only benefit from the success of a diverse community. The upcoming November schools bond will give voters the opportunity to endorse that legacy. Vote yes to renew the schools bond, Measure 15-178.
Shaun Moran is a member of the Ashland Citizens’ Budget Committee and a retired financial service industry executive.