Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the key dates for this election?

  • A. Here is the calendar of events for the November 7, 2017 special election:

    • September 7, 2017 - Deadline for Hillsboro School District to file its ballot measure and explanatory statement
    • September 11, 2017 - Deadline for the filing of measure argement statements
    • October 17, 2017 - Voter registration deadline
    • October 18, 2017 - Ballots mailed out
    • November 7, 2017 - Election Day

    For additional information, please visit the Washington County elections website.

Q. Will this bond raise my property taxes?

  • A. No. This bond would not raise your current property tax rate of $2.24/$1000 of assessed value, which is what property owners paid in November 2016.

    When property taxes are collected in November 2017, Hillsboro School District will have paid off all outstanding bonds except for the one passed in 2006. This provides an opportunity for the District to sell new bonds to finance capital construction, infrastructure improvements, and student achievement enhancements as part of its long-range plan for facilities management over the next 20 years.

    Please note there are many assessments that make up a property tax statement and that, by Oregon State Statute, assessed value can go up 3 percent per year. So while your overall taxes may increase from year-to-year, the amount levied by Hillsboro School District for bonded debt will remain the same.

Q. How can you raise $408 million and keep the tax rate the same?

  • A. With the property tax collection in November 2017, property owners will have paid off all outstanding bonds except for the one passed in 2006. If we were to do nothing, the tax rates would drop in November 2018. By filling in that "gap" with new bonds, both the District and the community have an opportunity to invest in existing schools and students, as well as plan for future growth, without increasing the tax rate currently being paid.

Q. Don't I already pay taxes for schools?

  • A. Yes and no. The general education taxes property owners pay each year (approximately $5/$1,000 of assessed property value) go to support operational expenses like teachers and educational materials, not capital expenses like buildings and infrastructure maintenance. In order to raise funds for large-scale capital projects, the property owners within a school district’s boundaries must vote to place an additional tax on their property.

    Recently-legislated programs like the Construction Excise Tax (CET) and the Oregon Schools Capital Improvement Matching Grant Programs (OSCIM) show that our elected officials understand the need for more K-12 infrastructure support. These programs are indeed very helpful and appreciated; however, considering that HSD collects less than $2 million per year in CET funds and that the OSCIM grant has a maximum allocation of $8 million, but that the cost to build just one elementary school is more than $35 million, the programs are certainly not a substitute for a school district having to ask its community to support a capital construction bond.

Q. Aren't schools receiving money from the Marijuana Tax?

  • A. Yes, schools do receive 40% of the eligible tax revenues from marijuana sales. The legislature included an estimate of marijuana revenues in the $8.2 billion State School Fund allocation for the 2017-19 biennium, so the revenues currently being distributed do not represent “new” money - it is money that was anticipated.

    The Marijuana Tax revenue for schools is distributed through the State School Fund on a weighted per-student basis. Hillsboro School District makes up approximately 3.5% of the total state population, so we receive a proportional amount of any money allocated to the State School Fund.

    Approximately $85 million in Marijuana Tax revenues is being distributed this fall, $35 million of which is going to the State School Fund. Our portion of that is approximately $1.2 million, and that was already included in our General Fund budget for the 2017-18 school year.

    If Marijuana Tax revenue comes in above projections, the legislature has the discretion as to how these additional funds will be allocated. They could choose to use the same formula used to allocated the projected revenue, which is 40% to the State School Fund; 20% to Mental Health, Alcoholism and Drug Services; 15% to the Oregon State Police; 5% to the Oregon Health Authority; 10% to Cities; and 10% to Counties. Or they could choose a separate allocation method, or not to allocate additional revenues and instead put the money in reserves.

Q. Will this bond lower class sizes?

  • A. No. Capital construction bonds cannot pay for operational expenses like staffing, and hiring additional teachers is what it would take for us to lower class size. That said, it will do a couple of things to help with large class sizes: 1) Every school in the district would receive some “flexible classroom furniture,” which would allow schools to replace their oldest, bulkiest desks, tables, chairs, etc. with new pieces that both maximize space and encourage student collaboration; and 2) We would be building new schools and renovating existing schools in the areas where the most growth is projected to occur, which would help prevent overcrowding and would provide additional spaces where learning could take place.

    There is a taxing mechanism, known as a local option tax (LOT), that allows communities to raise funds for operational expenses. Some of our surrounding communities do have a LOT in place, but Hillsboro School District does not.

Q. What will this bond do for the school(s) in my neighborhood?

  • A. Please visit the Project List by School or District Site area and select the schools/sites you're interested in to see the work that would be taking place there. Please note that project start dates are estimates and may be modified as necessary. Check back often for the most current information.

Q. Why should I pay for schools in areas where I don't live? If I don't have kids in school?

  • A. The way schools are financed in Oregon is on a "pay it forward" model. If you ever had kids in school or were a public school student yourself, people before you paid for the schools you and/or your child(ren) attended. Similarly, the current residents of the Hillsboro School District help pay for the schools we have now and those we build and improve in the future throughout the time they live here. As new residents move into the District's attendance area, they assume these taxes as well. Regardless of where you live in Oregon, you will be paying for the schools in that area.

    Investment in public education is a sound one! Great schools increase property values and safe schools help ensure safe neighborhoods. Young people are our future workforce, homeowners, and taxpayers. Their education prepares them for that next step into adulthood, and the stronger their foundation the better their outcomes!

Q. Why don't additional property tax dollars from new developments cover the cost of schools?

  • Q. Why not wait until there is more development in Hillsboro and then go out for this bond when more people can pay for it and it can be spread amongst more people? Why don’t the additional Property Tax dollars generated by the new developments in the Hillsboro School District cover the cost of building new schools?

    A. There are two main types of collections for schools those of us in Oregon will see on our property tax statements: the education Operating Levy, which was established by Measure 5 in 1990; and School Bonds.

    1. The Operating Levy is virtually the same in every community around the state (maximum of $5/$1000 of assessed value; ours is $4.9749/$1000). Money collected for the Operating Levy makes up a majority of a school district’s Local Revenue (local revenue also includes money collected from the Common School Fund and the County School Fund).

      The State School Fund (SSF), administered by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), considers both Local Revenue and State Revenue—dollars allocated by the State Legislature as part of their biennial budgeting process—for its Equalization Formula, which is designed to provide the same level of support per student to all districts in the state, regardless of districts’ ability to generate local property taxes and other local revenues.

      The SSF is allocated on a weighted per-student basis (additional weighting is given for special education students, English learners, etc.) based on the total number of students in the state. The amount that an individual district can receive through the SSF is a simple calculation:

      SSF per-student allocation x Number of weighted students enrolled in the District = Total SSF Allocation

      The Total SSF Allocation sets a limit on how much a district can receive through the SSF Formula. If a district receives more Local Revenue, they will receive less SSF revenue. If they receive less Local Revenue, they will receive more SSF.  Here’s an example:

      Assumptions:    SSF per student allocation =    $8,000
                              Total Students Enrolled =        20,000
                              Total SSF Allocation =             $160,000,000
          If Total Local Revenue is $50,000,000, the District will receive $110,000,000 in SSF.
          If Total Local Revenue is $70,000,000, the District will receive $90,000,000 in SSF.

      As can be seen, regardless of how much additional money in Property Taxes is generated by the growth in Hillsboro, the District will only be able to receive our proportional share of the State School Fund.

    2. General Obligation (also known as Capital Construction) Bonds, approved by the voters within a given school district, are the only mechanism that exist in Oregon for building new schools or making large capital investments in existing schools. Neither cities nor counties, or even developers, have any obligation to fund schools in whole or in part. And the money school districts receive from the State School Fund is for operational expenses—any amount they are able to set aside for day-to-day maintenance, while necessary, reduces the amount available for putting teachers in classrooms, purchasing curricular materials, etc.

      At any given time, a school district may—in addition to the education Operating Levy—also be collecting property taxes for the repayment of outstanding Bonds. If a school district has refinanced a portion of any of its outstanding bond debt, this may appear on separate lines of the property tax statement.

      This Bonded Tax Rate is assumed by all new property owners within the school district—not just the ones who lived in the district when the bond was passed. As assessed value within the school district grows, the Bonded Tax Rate may decrease, unless accurate assumptions about its growth were made at the time the bonds were sold. Conversely, the Bonded Tax Rate could increase if there were a decrease in a district’s assessed value. 

Q. Will I have an opportunity to see design plans for specific projects before I vote?

  • A. Not necessarily. While some of the pre-design and design work will take place prior to the election in November 2017 to ensure the District is prepared to execute several projects in the summer of 2018 should the bond pass, there may not be enough information to share prior to election day. We will share the information we have on this website and would be happy to answer any specific questions you may have on an individual basis. Please feel free to contact Adam Stewart or Beth Graser with questions.

Q. Are you spending money promoting this bond that could be paying for a teacher?

  • A. No. We are spending some of our Construction Excise Tax (CET) money to spread the word about this bond program. CET money cannot be used for operational expenses like staffing.