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Questions abound about "new" Franklin High

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Future Quaker Michael Smoyer, and dad Chris Myers, look at the exhibit of plans for the new Franklin High School.What was billed as an “open house” held in the Franklin High cafeteria for students and families on May 8 turned into a 90-minute question-and-answer session about the “new” Franklin High School Schematic Design.

The plan was to show the outcome of how the working group has been refining the “Schematic Design” – a detailed study of the layout of educational spaces and common areas in the major remodel of the high school.

Questions asked by the 60-some attendees ranged from the new school’s safety and security systems with access-control doors, to the placement of classrooms and learning centers.

“The most significant task is fitting ‘Next Generation Learning Spaces’ into an historical building,” explained DOWA-IBI Group’s Associate Principal Architect, Karina Ruiz.

“One of the main facets we’re showing this evening is the development of the Performing Arts Building, the interior and circulation of the site, and how to articulate the faces of this building to neighborhood,” Ruiz said. “This building faces S.E. 52nd Avenue on Woodward Street.”

The other change presented was the concept of consolidating two separate buildings for the Athletics and Sports Medicine into one taller building.

Asked what the team learned from their March 9 discussion with family members, students and teachers regarding the “Learning Neighborhoods” concept, Ruiz said that as a result they’ve since met with staff members several times.

“We are continuing to look at the challenges of designing teaching in a ‘Learning Neighborhood’,” Ruiz said. “This includes how we can adjust those challenges both in terms of technology – using the transition between shared teaching spaces – and how that can work.”

This comes at the request of the school system leaders, she added. “Portland Public Schools is definitely moving in that direction – toward ‘Learning Neighborhoods’ rather than dedicated teacher classrooms.”

Schematic Design is an early phases of the project, Ruiz reminded. “From there, it goes to Design Development, then developing Design Documents, and then the construction.”

The team was expecting to go before the Board of Education on May 27 for the Schematic Design approval. Follow the process by regularly checking their website: http://www.pps.k12.or.us/bond/8495.htm.