Roseburg bond levy failure partly due to pandemic, officials say

Officials with Roseburg Public Schools say that coronavirus was just one element in the in the failure of their $94 million bond levy earlier this week.

Posted: May 21, 2020 6:14 PM
Updated: May 21, 2020 7:36 PM

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- Coronavirus is just one element in the failure of Roseburg's $94 million bond levy, district officials said.

The bond would have covered projects like safety and security improvements, new gymnasiums at five elementary schools, a rebuilt building at Roseburg High and other improvements.

According to Superintendent Jared Cordon, the district will not be able to complete any of the projects with their general fund, even their more urgent infrastructure and security needs.

Cordon believes the pandemic and economic crisis played a role in the outcome. He said strong support for the levy was shown in polls taken before coronavirus hit.

"I clearly think it had an impact. But the ballot has a 'yes, no' on it. Not a 'yes, if' or 'yes, when,'" he said.

According to the Secretary of State's website, about 52% of voters said no to the measure, amounting to almost 7,400 votes. Roughly 600 fewer people voted yes.

School board chair Joe Garcia said the board will consider if the levy should return in November or in next May's ballot. He said the tight race, combined with more than 1,000 ballots not being clearly marked, could be an indication that some voters still had questions about the measure.

"One of the questions we are going to have is how do we get information out to people to make sure they feel like they are making the best informed decision? And did folks feel like they had enough information?"

According to Cordon, the school board will begin debriefing about the election at their school board meeting next Wednesday.

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