A Bonding Moment

4J will ask voters for $319.3 million in bond measure

The 4J school board finally decided on the dollar amount to ask Eugene voters in November. By unanimous vote, the board will ask for $319.3 million, the largest amount in the district’s history. 

But it’ll be money well-spent. 

The bond will be used to help ease that difference by investing in updating North Eugene High School, which hasn’t been updated in 60 years.

The city’s north-south disparity was evident when Superintendent Gustavo Balderas announced that South Eugene High School was chosen as the top high school in the state of Oregon.

The school board will invest $135 million in a new North Eugene High School, shaving off $15 million from the original plans. 

“What you get shouldn’t be determined by your zip code,” Alicia Hays, 4J school board chair said during the meeting. 

“For North [Eugene High School] to succeed, it needs investments,” board member Evangelina Sundgrenz said as the board discussed the bond measure. 

“To build a school at capacity when it’s complete is foolish,” she added. “I look at this as an equity issue to provide for our students and not disadvantage them.” 

The high school was the top concern of the public forum, with members of the public calling for a capacity for 1,200 students, rather than a smaller building of 1,000 students, which would have been at capacity right after its construction.

Sabrina Gordon, who’s taught in the North Eugene area for more than 20 years, said constructing a high school with a student capacity of 1,200 would be a wise investment and make the project be a capstone for the district’s investment in the region. 

However, the Trump administration’s knack for tariffs has put an obstacle in the plans to have a 1,200 student capacity building by keeping construction costs down. 

Balderas said that with Trump’s tariffs on steel — and an unknown future for other construction items — it will make cost projections difficult. 

To find ways to overcome high construction costs and still have full 1,200 student capacity building, board members talked about shaving off $15 million from a new North Eugene High School.

As a result, it wouldn’t be the “Cadillac version,” Mary Watson said during the meeting. 

“This is critical to our community, to our democracy, for our future of our kids,” board member Anne Marie-Levis said. “We’re investing in the future of our society.” 

Money from the bond, if passed, will also go toward Camas Ridge Elementary and Edison Elementary School, as well as other curriculum investments such as career technical education.

UPDATED: 10:44 am Tuesday, Aug. 21