By Alisha Roemeling
LOWELL — The sparkling apple cider was flowing, applause was abundant, and the mood was joyful Tuesday night at the Lowell Fire District Fire Station as district officials and citizens alike celebrated district voters passing a $4 million school bond.
After receiving first-round results from Tuesday’s Lane County special election, about 40 people burst into applause as Johnie Matthews, the Lowell School District assistant superintendent, read the preliminary results and gave a brief speech.
Early results showed that voters in the Lowell district overwhelmingly passed the bond measure 513 yes votes to 217 no votes as of 8 p.m.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see those first numbers,” he said. “But it looks like the community came out strong in support of our schools, and that’s encouraging.”
The bond dollars will enable the district to tackle the most pressing projects on the school district’s long to-do list. The district will receive an additional $4 million in matching grant funds from the state.
Both schools in the district — the 87-year-old Lowell Middle/High School and the 77-year-old Lundy Elementary School — need many repairs and upgrades.
assage of the bond green-lights improvements that will include safety and security upgrades such as cameras and magnetic locking doors in both school buildings; sprinklers and other fire suppression equipment; replacement of interior and exterior doors; science classroom upgrades; plumbing and electrical updates; removal of asbestos and replacement of deteriorated floors.
A new gym and wrestling room will be built at the middle/high school, and the high school gym will be converted into a multipurpose center and performing arts venue.
A crumbling sewage line that rotted under the middle school/ high school cafeteria needs to be replaced, and asbestos needs to be removed from the hallways in the high school.
The district also plans to make its schools more accessible, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
It’s been about 22 years since the district passed a general obligation bond.
Superintendent Walt Hanline said the community’s support meant a lot to him.
“I’m very pleased that the community has supported the schools with their votes,” Hanline said. “There are a large number of retirees in this community and tonight they said ‘we care about the community and we care about these schools,’ ” he said. “I’m proud to be associated with it (the town).”
Lowell, about 22 miles southeast of Eugene, is home to about 1,100 people. Most of them — slightly more than 1,000 — own a home in Lowell, according to Lane County Assessor Mike Cowles.
According to the 2010 census, 35.8 percent of the households in Lowell included children under the age of 18.
Lowell School District property taxes are estimated to increase by $1.06 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $159 per year for a home assessed at $150,000. The total district tax rate increase to about $6.10 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $910 per year for a $150,000-assessed home.