Members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs have decided to spend nearly $11 million to build a new school. The vote was essentially a re-do of a referendum that failed in May due to inadequate voter turnout.
Nearly three quarters of the tribal members who cast a vote in that first election favored the plan. Still, it failed due to a provision in the tribes' constitution that requires at least 33% of all members over the age of 21 cast a ballot. Just by comparison, only 22% of registered voters turned out in Multnomah County for the May primary. And that percentage doesn't include all those who could legally vote but never registered.
"It was clear that the majority of those that voted yes [in the first election] wanted the school", says Urbana Ross is the tribe's Chief Operating Officer. "So there was a rally to get out and inform tribal members surrounding this [second] referendum".
Ross says one motivating factor was that Jefferson County voters had already voted to foot half the bill for the school.
Once completed, the facility is expected to serve around 750 students in grades K-8.