PH Bond Election Update

First, thank you so much for your support for our students and schools. This is evident every day, not just during school bond elections. This communication is intended to let you know where the bond election currently stands.
The latest results show the PH School Bond passing by 19 votes. There may still be some votes to count. The county currently has some ballots where the signature doesn’t match or there may be other items in question. These voters will be notified today and then they have 14 days to respond. We do not know how many of these are PH ballots. The next election update will come by Friday afternoon at the latest.

The County Clerk has until June 9 to official certify the vote count, but hopefully the next update will give us more clarity.
For now, I am “cautiously optimistic” about the bond.

PH School Bond Articles #6 and #7

Reliable Technology for All Schools
Included in the $17.95 million bond measure proposed by the Pleasant Hill School District for this May is the upgrade of the technology systems throughout both campuses. The upgrades are anticipated to provide greater reliability of signal and connectivity, greater access and speed, and an adaptability to help future-proof the system for both fixed and mobile devices.
The infrastructure and head end rooms would be the first focus. The District will re-configure rack and server space, provide mechanically-cooled server rooms to protect equipment, and replace aging components. The lines heading into the buildings are robust enough, but processing speeds are slow, due to the existing equipment. Reliability of the wireless infrastructure is spotty. The bond would ensure that complete wireless coverage is provided throughout all buildings and adjacent outdoor campus areas. With that connectivity will also come digital security to safeguard files and restrict viewing of inappropriate content.
In the classroom, the District would work toward equity between all the instructional areas by providing the right tools to do the job. Based on grade level and curriculum, the District would add enhanced video and audio systems. The video will allow streaming of online material to the entire class and may have the capability to be interactive, much like the older SMART boards. The audio will equalize sound in the classroom. Combined with replacement computers, the goal would be to provide each teacher and student the tools they need to succeed. The District has an ambitious goal of a computer-to-student ratio of 1:3, and this could be accomplished by a mix of portable and fixed devices.
State testing criteria and student research has already over-taxed the limited capacity of the current computer labs. With funds from the bond, existing labs will be renovated and new labs will be created, so that there will be two labs in each building.
Also included in the bond are replacement of the high school classroom wings, an addition at the elementary school, and renovations of the library, music room, and cafeteria. Along with the greatly improved classroom environment, the technology will be upgraded to an equal caliber. In the end, getting tools and proper training to students and staff would help meet the goal of equity for all students and a learning environment competitive with other school districts.

Accountability to the Community
The Pleasant Hill School District has placed Bond Measure 20-221 on the May 20th ballot for $17.95 million. It is estimated at a tax rate equal to the 10-year average tax rate for a bond which will expire soon. As such, there will be no overlap, and the annual cost is expected to remain the same. It contains safety, technology, and capital construction projects at all district sites, including replacement of the high school classroom wings, with new, separate Grades 6-8 and 9-12 areas, and a small addition at the elementary school to handle growth. The yearlong planning process used by the District to prioritize which projects were most critical included several staff, parents, and members of the community. If the bond is approved, the same level of transparency will be maintained during the design and construction phases.
As is typical, if the bond passes, Pleasant Hill’s School Board will appoint a Citizens Oversight Committee this summer. The application and selection process and the size of the committee has yet to be determined, but is anticipated to be a process where any resident can apply, and final selection is by the Board. The committee size will likely be five to nine members, depending on the number of applicants.
While thoughtful planning to determine a scope and appropriate budgets for each line item in the bond has been conducted, no design has occurred yet. Design will only take place with the input of this oversight committee. DLR Group, an Oregon-based school design firm, has been retained for the bond planning. They have been tasked with developing a schedule that allows for construction activities to begin in late Spring of 2015, provided the bond is successful this May. Incorporated into that schedule are multiple community meetings and monthly reports to both the Citizens Oversight Committee and the School Board.
During the design phase, the Citizens Oversight Committee will meet monthly to receive and evaluate data from the district administration and design team regarding matters of budget, design considerations, and schedule. First, designs will be vetted by the site-based staff committees, comprised of teachers and administrators, then brought to the Citizens Oversight Committee, and then finally to the School Board for final approval.
The construction phase of the projects listed in the bond will occur in much the same way, but with the addition of the contractors. The contracting method for each of the projects is yet to be determined, but all projects will be publicly bid, either directly by the District or through a construction manager process where the general contractor is selected through a qualification process, and then they publicly bid the sub-contracts. Again, budget, schedule, and quality control reports will be made monthly. Tours with the committee and public-at-large will be conducted periodically throughout the construction phase.
The District has committed to not only a high level of transparency and accountability to its constituents, but also a high level of quality in design and construction. The District anticipates soliciting applications for the committee in June, if the bond measure is approved this month.

PH School Bond Articles #4 and #5

Work Proposed at Pleasant Hill Elementary

Included in the May 20th bond measure proposed by Pleasant Hill School District are minor renovations and a small addition to Pleasant Hill Elementary School.

As the newest facility, completed in 1996, Pleasant Hill Elementary School is a well-constructed building that is standing the test of time. Finishes and systems are holding up well in the main building, so now is the time to make modest investments while costs are small.

A portion of the roofs require replacement, and the mechanical controls need to be updated to meet current energy standards. From a technology perspective, the District is looking at investments in expanded and more reliable wireless access, increases to the student computer ratio, integration of equal and modern computer, audio and video tools in all classrooms, and more labs with fixed and mobile devices to meet testing and student research requirements. In terms of safety at the elementary school, the funds would add control fencing along the drop off and pick up areas and improved phone and intercom systems for emergency communications. Technology and safety considerations have changed from eighteen years ago.

What has also changed is the grade configuration at the school. Not originally designed for K-2 students, some of the spaces do not meet the needs of these younger children. Cabinets, instructional tools, and restrooms need to be modified in a portion of the building to support these smaller students. Additionally, with recent growth, a four-classroom addition is proposed to handle this influx of students. The placement and relationship of this addition to the rest of the school and playground will be examined in a public process after passage of a bond measure. The District has committed to a site design committee made up of staff, parents, and community to participate in the design discussions for these spaces.

Most parents and community are aware of the traffic congestion in the elementary school parking lot. The combination of buses, parents, and staff in the same lot, the increase in population, and the difficulty of turning onto the main highway has created a functionality and safety concern for everyone. The bond measure would include a resolution to this issue by pulling bus traffic out of this parking lot and providing emergency access around the back of the elementary – closed to private vehicles for safety. The exact routing is under review and will be included in the same community forums that will be initiated after passage of a bond, so input is weighed and the right long term solution can be implemented.

In 1996, the construction of the new elementary included re-use of the existing cafeteria, library, and music buildings. The current plan is to continue use of these structures but to provide needed improvements to continue to make them viable as instructional spaces for the elementary students.

The library will receive minor renovations with the removal of the wall between it and the existing classroom to support the use by more than one classroom at a time – one in a presentation style format, and the other in a computer-aided research format. Renovations proposed here will also include finishes, technology, cabinets, and lighting.

At the cafeteria building, in order to support the goals for improved nutrition for every student, the primary focus will be on the kitchen. The bond includes replacement of systems (plumbing, mechanical, and electrical), finishes, and equipment and reconfiguration of the serving counter to allow students to cue on the interior and receive expanded options. Cafeteria renovations include replacement of floor and ceiling finishes along with improved acoustics and lighting. The restrooms in this building will also receive new finishes and fixtures.

Lastly, at the music building, much of the same focus will be made to continue the longevity of this structure. Beyond the similar type of interior treatments described above for the other older buildings, the exterior will also receive repairs, painting, and replacement of the doors, frames, and hardware. More secure instrument storage and performance level acoustics are also vital for the success of the program.

Overall ,the District is planning modest investment in the newest core building at the elementary school with more extensive improvements to the older support structures to bring them up to the same standards while addressing growth and safety at these grade levels.


Pleasant Hill Continues Focus on Middle-School Students
Throughout this series on the Pleasant Hill School District’s $17.95 million bond measure 20-221, proposed for the May 20th ballot, the scope of proposed work at each of the buildings has been described. As noted for Pleasant Hill High School, the two academic wings would be replaced due to the age of the buildings and the need to provide modern and regionally-competitive school environments. One of these wings will be designed specifically for middle-school students.
Pleasant Hill School District realized several years ago the cost effectiveness and the academic benefit of moving the seventh and eighth grades to the high school buildings. Seventh and eighth graders are able to utilize elective programs like shop, art, and music at the high school, due to the proximity. If the students were at separate buildings, the District would need to double the teachers for those classes; share a teacher between buildings, which would mean offering fewer classes at each site; or simply drop these electives for the younger students. The shared use of office, library, food service, and athletic spaces also assists the District economically.
While the middle-school students have the advantage of using the same elective spaces, new construction at the high school would allow for keeping the academic and social areas separated from the high school students. In polling Pleasant Hill parents and community, the highest priority for the new configuration was to give middle-school students their own areas. Therefore, the middle-school wing on the high school campus will have classrooms, science labs, technology areas, and a commons area adjacent to the new kitchen. The new high school wing will have similar spaces.

The middle-school wing will be designed to accommodate sixth graders, as well as projected growth. The sixth-grade curriculum fits more naturally in a grade 6‐8 / Middle School model. This improves the learning opportunities for sixth-grade students, and will also help ease crowded conditions at Pleasant Hill Elementary School.
To date, only the conceptual planning has been done in order to identify the amount of space and funds needed to create the wings. Once the bond is approved, the District will start the actual design process, with input from staff, parents, and community. They, along with school design architects DLR Group, will review options and configurations to best address the needs of all students.

PH School Bond Articles #2 and #3

The following 2 articles appeared recently in the Springfield Times:

How Will Pleasant Hill Schools be Safer?

Included in the May 20th bond measure proposed by Pleasant Hill School District are multiple improvements to increase the safety across the District campus. Considerations regarding safety include not only the deterrent of violent crimes on site and in the buildings, but also the less publicized threats that exist at schools across the country: bullying, theft, vandalism, and vehicular related issues.

These types of threats will be addressed through a variety of approaches.

The elementary parking lot will be configured to separate bus and car traffic as well as provide clear and safe access for students and other pedestrians from these areas to the front doors of their buildings. Parents have long struggled with the elementary school parking lot congestion, leaving students to weave between cars and buses. The new plan will remove bus flow from the parking lot and provide wide, defined sidewalks and crosswalks back and forth. Multiple alternatives for on-site bus drives are being evaluated. The District plans to engage staff and parents with their architects in this evaluation. If the bond passes in May, those design meetings will take place immediately thereafter.

Building perimeters will receive improved doors and door locks, including electronic card entry which will also aid in control of use after hours to those authorized for entry. Additionally, the District will reduce unsafe travel of students between buildings by eliminating the elementary portables, adding control fences and gates, and providing a more compact building footprint for the replacement wings at Pleasant Hill High School.

Offices will be configured to have better visibility of the parking lots and main entry points to monitor people entering and leaving the building. Safeguards will also be incorporated to route visitors through the office prior to entering the rest of the building.

Cameras already exist at multiple locations. The systems will be expanded to include areas not already covered.

Classrooms will receive better window treatments to control visibility in the event of a lockdown procedure. Replacement door locks and, in some cases, new doors will also allow for better lockdown procedures.

Phones and intercoms will be improved by the modification or replacement of these systems in each building to ensure that communication between the main office and the classrooms is clear and reliable.

The Pleasant Hill School District is committed to balancing these improvements with maintaining a welcoming, open, and positive environment for their students, staff, and community. National studies support that an environment that students feel safe in will improve their overall achievement. The Pleasant Hill School bond will achieve these district-wide goals as well as others critical toward their mission of providing the best education for their students.

A Phased Replacement at Pleasant Hill High School

Included in the May 20th bond measure proposed by Pleasant Hill School District are additions and renovations at Pleasant Hill High School.

Originally built in 1962, Pleasant Hill High School has had additions up through 1975. While some of the structures are still viable, the oldest portions are in need of significant renovation or replacement. The two main academic wings are among the oldest structures and are proposed for replacement under the current bond measure. There were multiple drivers for this recommendation that was made by community and staff.

Age: The primary structures are 52 years old. Schools of the 50’s and 60’s were built with a 75 year expected life. Any additions will outlast the existing structure. Any major renovations will not significantly extend the useful life of the building, so a bond for renovations would be paid off within 10 years of the time in which the building should be considered for replacement. This oes not make good financial sense.

Condition versus cost: Based on the data collected and estimates for overall building repairs, the cost to repair or renovate the academic wings would be 63% of the cost of new. Again, with the remaining expected life and delta of renovation to new, further expending funds on these buildings does not make financial sense.

Educational Environment: The academic wings were designed at a time of assembly lines. Repetition was thought as efficient. Current best practice promotes that this is actually inefficient. Students and teachers learn and instruct differently, and a variety of space size and configurations are critical for improved student achievement. Core concepts in current educational environments are: project-based, flexibility, transparency, personalization, technology rich, and collaborative.

The new classroom wings will include modern science labs meeting current state mandated curriculum needs and will include all safety equipment as well as be versatile enough to handle chemistry needs with separated storage, mixing hoods, and support systems.

The replacement wings will also include technology labs. These will have both fixed and mobile capabilities and be tied in with a school-wide wireless access infrastructure, so access to homework assignments and lesson plans can be obtained from anywhere on campus. With that access will also come security measures to help safeguard that information and ensure students are only looking at appropriate sites.

The general classrooms will be made durable and energy efficient. They will also have the same technology tools available at other regional districts with computers and audio and video enhancement. This is not to replace traditional instructional methods, but to supplement them to maintain the competitive offerings in Pleasant Hill.

A critical part of the approach to these wings will be to maintain a separation between the high school grades and the middle school grades as well as address the specific needs of those different aged students. Each of these two grade clusters will also have a commons area for pull out instruction, class collaboration, and independent study. How that separation occurs and the overall configuration and placement of these new wings will be part of a staff and community-based design process occurring after a bond is passed. The District chose not to incur the costs for design until such time as there were funds to support it.

In addition to these replacement wings, the high school will also receive renovations to some of its spaces and systems. A new technology infrastructure will be provided as well as replacements of portions of the roofing and domestic plumbing. All restrooms and locker rooms will have finishes and fixtures replaced. The front office will be reconfigured to provide better line of sight to the front entry and parking lot as well as control of who enters campus.

The high school kitchen is a concession stand next to the gym. The proposed bond measure would be to construct a true prep kitchen in order to pursue the nutrition goals of the District to provide healthy meals and alternative choices for students.

The existing wood gym floor would be replaced. The District is also proposing to add a second gymnasium next to the existing one. The new gym will accommodate State mandated P.E. requirements in addition to fulfilling the need for more athletic space and increased community requests to use the District’s facilities.

Teacher Appreciation Week


WHEREAS, teachers mold future citizens through guidance and education; and

WHEREAS, teachers encounter students of widely differing backgrounds; and

WHEREAS, our country’s future depends upon providing quality education to all students; and

WHEREAS, teachers spend countless hours preparing lessons, evaluating progress, counseling and coaching students and performing community service; and

WHEREAS our community recognizes and supports its teachers in educating the children of this community;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the School Board of Pleasant Hill School District No. 1 proclaims May 5 – 9, 2014 to be Teacher Appreciation Week; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the School Board of Pleasant Hill School District No. 1 strongly encourages all members of our community to join with it in personally expressing appreciation to our teachers for their dedication and devotion to their work.

Adopted this 5th day of May, 2014.

John Oldham
Chair, School Board


Tony Scurto

PH School Bond–Overall Plan

The following article appeared in the Springfield Times as the first part of a series of information items about the PH School Facilities Bond on the May 20, 2014 ballot:

Following the recommendation of the 30+ member community and staff-based Billies Futures Team, the Pleasant Hill School District Board of Directors will ask voters to approve a measure authorizing $17.95 million in general obligation bonds in May. The bonds will fund capital costs of renovating facilities, improving safety and updating technology.

The board feels that voters will be positive toward the measure, because the district has spent a year researching and formulating a long-range facilities plan with significant input from the school community, guided by educational planning and design consultants DLR Group who last assisted the District in 1995. The district pared down the plan to what are deemed the most critical needs, the first phase of a 20-year vision.

Superintendent Tony Scurto and Board Member Kevin Parrish said that passage of the bond in May will result in little or no increase in the average district property tax rate over the last ten years. The District’s last bond in 1995 will expire next year, and Scurto said that the new bond would simply take its place, extending the existing tax rate.

Scurto went on to say that the key goals of the bond are safety, student learning, and addressing the aging buildings.

DLR Group provided the following overall outline of the key components of the planned facilities improvements to be funded by the proposed bond.

Safety improvements at all sites top the list of needs. This includes an overall approach to improving the environment by addressing line of sight, hardening of the perimeter, better access control, expansion of the existing camera systems, and reducing opportunities for bullying and vandalism. One of the most critical improvements will be to pull bus traffic out of the main elementary school lot with a separate dedicated drive. Parents have long struggled with the congestion in Pleasant Hill’s main parking lot.

Technology continues to play a critical part in the learning environment. While Pleasant Hill School District makes annual strides in the availability and access to these tools, wireless access in all buildings, improved student computers and labs, and teaching aids for audio and video in the classroom still remain on the to-do list in order to be competitive with neighboring school districts and provide comparable opportunities for all students. Improvements to the aging phone and intercom systems address not only the technology requirements but also add to the investment in student and staff safety.

Pleasant Hill Elementary School’s main structure is the district’s newest facility and has very few needs, but as it approaches 20 years old, some capital work to its controls systems and roofs is warranted to preserve the structure. Additionally, with growth and the shift several years ago in grade configuration, a handful of classrooms will be adapted for kindergarten through second graders as well as classrooms added to address an increasing population.

The original music, library, and cafeteria buildings are used daily by the elementary school, but they are in need of renovations in order to continue as viable structures. Each needs work to the building envelopes as well as interior improvements to systems, acoustics, technology, and finishes. With the growing emphasis by the District on nutrition, the 50+ year old kitchen requires upgrades to meet the demands of the program and student volume.

Pleasant Hill High School will undergo more substantial changes, including the replacement of the two main academic wings with a new structure. The District is committed to renovating buildings to be saved and replacing buildings no longer cost effective to maintain. At over 60% of the cost of new and obsolete spaces and infrastructure to support modern learning, it is more financially prudent to replace these two wings. However, critical to the success of this project is the separation of middle school students and their older high school peers. The design will be a collaboration of community and staff to create separate spaces for each group of students for science and tech labs, general classrooms, and commons areas while still realizing the benefit of shared support areas such as a front office, library, music, and shop areas.

Some of the high school’s support spaces will also be renovated or added onto, including a new kitchen to replace the concession stand currently used for the entire student body, repair to all locker rooms and restrooms, and a second gymnasium at the high school to support the increased physical education minutes mandated by the state and increase access opportunities for youth athletic programs. Coupled with the additional gym, will be the replacement of the existing gym’s wood floor.

Information on the bond and the facilities plan is easily accessible on the district’s website

Bond Measure Public Forum

Hopefully, by now you have heard that PHSD#1 has a bond measure on the May 20 ballot. I have heard quite a bit of talk about this lately; some of what I am hearing is factual and some is not accurate. On Wednesday night, April 30, we are holding a Public Forum on the Facility Plan and Bond Measure. The forum will be held at the PHHS Gym.
Our plan is to provide information about the bond, answer questions, receive public comments and take tours. To read more about facility/bond information, click here.
In our efforts to get information out to the community, we are also holding an information session with the Enterprise Neighborhood Association this Sunday and with residents of Casa Bella Mobile Home Park on Edenvale on May 1.
We look forward to seeing you Wednesday night.

Thanks Classified Employees!

The Pleasant Hill Community has many people who strive to provide an excellent school environment for our students. This is the official week to honor some of those people whose work is vital to the operation of our schools. Those people are our Classified Employees.
These are the people who have titles such as Educational Assistants, Secretaries, Custodians, Maintenance and more. Beyond the titles, they are often the first to arrive at school and the last to leave. They greet students and visitors at the office, assist with classroom instruction to ensure every child’s needs are being met, bandage scraped knees on the playground, serve meals to keep our kids healthy and growing, keep our libraries functioning as learning centers, provide and maintain access to technology and make sure our school buildings reflect a sense of pride.
Mostly, they care deeply about our kids.
Please join me in honoring our Classified Staff during this special week, recognizing the outstanding work they do and in thanking them for their dedication to our school community.

Billie Graduation Rate #1


Our graduation rate is #1 in Lane County! According to figures released this week by the Oregon Department of Education, Pleasant Hill School District’s 4-Year graduation rate for 2013 was 91.7%. By comparison the state’s 4-Year graduation rate for 2013 was 68.7%.
Our district rate includes students who may be placed in alternative programs. If we look at the rate of students who were in attendance at Pleasant Hill High School only, the rate for 2013 was 93.8%. Not only is that rate the highest in Lane County, it is the 5th highest high school graduation rate in the state.

Congratulations Class of 2013 and thanks to the PHSD #1 Staff and our entire school Community!

Facility Plan and Bond Election

At the January 27 meeting the Pleasant Hill School Board voted unanimously to accept a facility plan for capital improvements to the Pleasant Hill Schools.

The goals of the plan are:
• Improved safety and security
• Renovation of worn facilities
• Improved energy efficiency of buildings
• Optimal learning environments for students to prepare them for today’s world
• Separation of middle schoolers from high schoolers
• Improved vehicular circulation on the site (separation of buses and cars, an additional entry point, eased congestion)
• Adequate kitchen facilities to prepare healthy student meals
• Improved technology for better learning
• Ease overcrowding at elementary school by moving 6th grade up to the high school facility and by adding more classrooms to the elementary school.

The Core Facility Features are:
1. Replacing core education wings (general instruction and STEM labs) at PHHS; including a separation of grades 6-8 classrooms as well as the provision for grade level commons and a fully functional kitchen–$9,985,000
2. Renovating restrooms and locker rooms at PHHS–$480,000
3. Adding four K-2 classrooms to PHES–$1,390,000
4. Expanding PHES library and adjusting 4 classrooms to meet needs of youngest grade levels–$240,000
5. Re-route busing to clear parking areas–$310,000
6. Invest in safety throughout campus–$450,000
7. Invest in technology throughout campus–$720,000
8. Invest in critical capital needs throughout the campus–$1,980,000
9. Renovate kitchen & cafeteria building at PHES–$500,000
10. Add physical education space at PHHS—an auxiliary gymnasium and support space–$1,900,000
The total amount of the proposed plan is $17,955,000.

To fund this plan, it was decided to hold a bond election this May, 2014. Throughout the spring we will provide more information about the plan. This information will be provided through printed material, e-mail communication, websites, facebook and in person at community meetings.