Plans are to have a new high school up and running by 2020

COURTESY OF GOOGLE MAPS - The Sherwood School District is looking to purchase 50 acres of land off Elwert Road for a new high school, which could open by 2020. The old high school would then be used as a single middle school.

(This corrects a previous version of this story. The district is in the process of seeking a request for proposal to find an architectural firm to design the new high school. No firm has yet been selected.)

The Sherwood School District is moving ahead with negotiations with several property owners to acquire land for a new high school following the passage of a $247.5 million bond issue on Nov. 8.

The day after the bond's passage, the Sherwood School District approved a resolution authorizing acquisition of property for the construction of a new high school. The property identified in the resolution is located off Elwert Road, between Southwest Kruger and Haide roads (tax lots 200, 201, and 207), and offers approximately 50 acres of regularly shaped, flat, developable land for the new school, according to a district press release.

"We're very grateful for the support shown by Sherwood voters for this bond," said Superintendent Heather Cordie. "These funds will allow us to address long-term capacity needs, improve safety and security in all our buildings, and provide needed technology and curriculum improvements."

Representatives with the Sherwood School District and the district's management group met with the Sherwood City Council on Tuesday to discuss plans for the new high school, which is expected to be up and running by 2020.

The district has been looking at six parcels of land west of Highway 99W, in between Southwest Chapman Road in the south and Southwest Scholls-Sherwood Road in the north. Of those, five have had drawbacks, such as having to find sanitary sewer hookups, problems with storm water access, issues with steep topography or the presence of wetland areas, district representatives told council members.

However, the one of those six swaths of land proved to be a good fit for the district — three parcels of property they hope to acquire by creating a single piece of property that touches Southwest Kruger, Haide and Elwert roads, resembling an upside down "L."

"It tended to be the right size," Rick Rainone of Cornerstone Management Group, the group representing the district in its construction efforts, told the council during the work session. When everything is figured in, the total site is composed of 55 to 56 acres, Rainone said, larger than the current Sherwood High School campus. The existing school sits on about 45 acres surrounded by residential neighborhoods.

Still, if the property is purchased, it will have to contend with a 40-foot-wide gas pipe easement that runs through a portion of the property, district officials said.

The property belongs to two limited liability companies (or LLCs) as well as three individuals, district officials say. There are no homes or developed pieces of property on the site.

One of the owners is the city of Sherwood, which owns a 20-acre tract of land that butts up to Elwert and Kruger roads, according to Assistant City Manager Tom Pessemier. The district would like to purchase 10 of those acres and asked the council for access to survey the property more closely. Although no decisions can be made during work sessions, the council later approved the access during its regular meeting without making a decision on whether or not to sell the land to the district.

During the work session, School Board Chairwoman Jessica Adamson told the council that the district doesn't want to acquire property where people are already living, noting there are no homes on the proposed property.

If the planned acreage is purchased, it will contain such facilities as two baseball fields, two softball fields,two tennis courts and a running track that would encircle a large synthetic turf athletic field. A 750-space parking lot is planned for the site as well.

Although a footprint schematic of the facility was handed out during the work session, Rainone warned that the proposed layout isn't final.

"It's going to change five or six more times before it is done," he said.

Connie Hansen, a school board member, told the council that the proposed land is advantageous because it will serve the district's future issues dealing with capacity and provides for more flexibility on how to use the space than the current high school.

Once the new high school is up and running, the existing high school site will become a single middle school, while Sherwood and Laurel Ridge middle schools will become elementary schools.

Meanwhile, the county plans on making improvements to the heavily congested Elwert-Kruger intersection. A preliminary design calls for realigning Kruger Road with Elwert Road and installing a roundabout about 500 feet north of the existing intersection.

Sidewalks, bike lanes, streetlights and landscaping improvements will be made to Elwert Road as well.

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