New year, new building plans for school district
After passing a $190 million bond measure in November of 2016, the Tigard-Tualatin School District now enters a big year for construction.
Portland-based Bassetti Architects wrapped up design plans for both Tigard and Tualatin high schools late last year, and the groundbreaking for both high schools is slated for June or July of this year. Construction is projected to take one year for Tualatin High, and two years for Tigard High.
Meanwhile, construction on the Durham Education Center starts this month, with plans to be finished before school starts up again in the fall. And the groundbreaking for a new Templeton Elementary building will happen this summer.
The biggest challenge in finalizing plans for Tigard High, Tualatin and the Durham Center: an increased pressure on Oregon's construction industry has increased project costs, so the district had to find ways to mitigate that.
"We are doing our best to stick to the program, and try to deliver the program that they want, with the impacts of the cost of construction changing being as minimal as possible," said Debbie Pearson, the bond project manager. For example, the district is planning to create a new public entry to Tualatin High School, and Bassetti Architects incorporated repetition in the design to lower construction costs.
"We're trying to be very conscientious in how we design it, because repetition means reduced cost," Pearson added.
Other planned improvements for the Tualatin High expansion and renovation include a new six-room classroom wing and expanded career technology education wing; new restrooms; and an enlarged commons area at the heart of campus.
"Right now, everybody's spilling out into the hallways," Pearson said about the roughly 2,000 square foot commons expansion. "It's an idea to try to get everyone more located centrally."
The district will also move Tualatin High's main office area to the center of the school, and convert the existing office space into more classrooms.
But one of the most buzzed-about areas of change, Pearson said, are the planned athletic facility improvements. Some of those projects — enlarged locker rooms, and a new softball batting cage — exist to make the girls' and boys' sports programs more equitable, as required by Title IX, a federal law that prohibits gender-based discrimination in schools.
"Every school district is doing it," Pearson said about the Title IX improvements. "You just have to."
Tualatin student athletes also can expect a new turfed, multipurpose field east of the football stadium — though that addition may come along a bit later than the rest of the planned improvements.
The planned athletic facility improvements for the Tigard High targeted rebuild mirror those of Tualatin: the girls' softball field will be turfed to match the baseball field, and the locker rooms will be rebuilt for equity. Tigard High will also add a new weight room and multi-purpose physical education room.
Inside the school building, Tigard High's rebuild will see a new two-story classroom wing, and an expanded Commons area. District spokeswoman Susan Stark Haydon said that currently, students who qualify for free or reduced lunch tend to eat inside the main building, while the rest of the student body eats lunch in the commons. Expanding that area will eliminate that equity challenge, Stark Haydon said.
Tigard High's main office will be relocated to the front of the school, so that it will be easier for visitors to find it — and safer for the school community. That norm of school construction has changed drastically since Tigard High was built in 1953.
Finally, some of the school's technology, art and career technical education classrooms will be rebuilt. Tigard High's existing cafeteria will be repurposed for additional classroom and performing arts uses — and the district received a seismic grant of about $500,000 to convert it.
Durham Education Center
The Durham Center is an alternative high school that hosts different educational programs for students who have dropped out of Tigard and Tualatin highs. An added building will allow the center to house more alternative programs, from the district's online school program to a collaborative program with Bethlehem House of Bread, a community pantry located across the street from the center.
"Now we're creating a space where all of them can be together, and the benefit of that is that they can share staff and counselors, and it'll be way more cost-effective for the district," Stark Haydon said.
The new Durham building will feature regular classrooms along with technology lab and a flexible "Maker's Space," and a Commons area. It was designed by BORA Architects.
"It's one of my favorite projects so far," Stark Haydon said. "The architect who worked on it said, I was one of those kids. He said he would have dropped out of high school if this way available when he was in school, because he would've wanted to go there."
The new building will mimic the look of the existing historic schoolhouse at Durham Center, which will remain intact. It will be a "net zero" building, meaning that it will create as much energy as it uses, thanks to solar panels and additional insulation.
Construction on Templeton Elementary's $35 million rebuild breaks ground this summer. Built in 1966 as a "California-style" school — meaning the hallways are all outdoors — Templeton is the district's oldest elementary building.
Stark Haydon called the original design "pennywise, but pound foolish" because it presents safety issues for students who must go outside to go from classroom to classroom or use the restroom. The rebuild will take care of that concern, and will meet other safety and sustainability standards.
The district plans to retain the school's existing core — meaning its gym, cafeteria, library, music rooms and three kindergarten classrooms — to use as an early learning center, and for community use.
Templeton Elementary shares a lot with Twality Middle School, which will be rebuilt next year. The district plans to improve the pick-up and drop-off space for both schools, so that there will be less congestion during school start and end times.
"Which I think the neighbors will be pleased about, and I know parents will be pleased too," Stark Haydon said.
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