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OC School Board to decide on location for transportation facility

Handling the transportation for the schools of Oregon City School District is no small task. The current transportation facility, a former rural school at Maple Lane Court, is the hub for over 65 school buses and various maintenance vehicles. Beyond vehicle storage, the property also has a two-bay repair shop, fueling station and is home to the district's maintenance and transportation departments.

For 10 years, staff have parked their personal vehicles in an adjacent lot leased by the district.

However, in the near future the parking area will no longer be available for lease. In addition to the parking issue, the district is also faced with an inefficient and aging building that was never equipped to handle the current transportation department needs or meet current industry safety standards.

An expansive report completed in 2011 confirmed the district’s significant need for an updated and upgraded facility. Over the past several years the Oregon City School Board has been discussing the issue and weighing options to move forward. At recent work sessions the board has reviewed three specific options:

• Option 1: Remodel the existing transportation facility on the current property. Move and build new maintenance facility elsewhere. (Estimated cost $8M.)

• Option 2: Build a new transportation facility on the current property. Move and build new maintenance facility elsewhere. (Estimated cost $9M.)

• Option 3: Build a new transportation and maintenance facility using bare land owned by the school district on High School Avenue, sell existing location. (Estimated cost $10M.)

At the Aug. 11 School Board meeting, it was clear that selling the existing property and building a new facility on the High School Avenue property was the best option for today and the future. A potential buyer for the existing property, Historic Properties LLC owned by former mayor Dan Fowler, has submitted an offer for $1.675 million, pending final decision by the board. On Sept. 8, the School Board will vote on whether to approve the sale of the current facility and authorize construction of a new facility on High School Avenue.

"The district has been looking at this issue since 2011, and I am excited that the board is going to consider making a long-term commitment to a facility that meets the current and future needs of the transportation and maintenance departments," said Wes Rogers, director of OCSD operations. "A facility built to today’s standards would not only provide a safe working place, but also improved efficiencies allowing these departments to be even more responsive to the district needs and programs."

The funding for the project would be a combination of a land sale of the current facility, state school transportation dollars and long-term debt financing secured by the district. Over the next five to seven years, the cost of this project would have no impact on general fund, meaning that it would not affect class sizes, textbook purchases or other instructional investments.