The Woodburn School District unveiled its neby: PHIL HAWKINS - The new reader board outside Woodburn High School displays news for the entire Woodburn School District.w reader board in January, replacing the former electronic message board in front of Woodburn High School that had been broken for more than two years.

The sign was originally scheduled to be replaced in early 2013, but prohibitive budget constraints forced the school district to push the project out a year before ultimately moving forward on the project last July.

“It was first approved in last year’s budget, but things got really tight, so it didn’t happen,” said school board Chairman David Vancil, who was a major proponent of getting the sign replaced as quickly as possible.

“I pushed very hard on it, because I think it is a face of the district. It is in front of the high school and in front of a very busy highway.”

The final cost to replace the reader board was approximately $44,000, said Vancil, which is in line with the original 2012 estimate of $40,000 to $50,000.

The school district opted to replace the malfunctioning unit outright instead of repairing it because the former reader board was outdated, said Lorin Stanley, maintenance supervisor for Woodburn School District.

“We never made a positive determination of exactly what was wrong, but it was so old,” said Stanley. “To give you an idea, it used incandescent bulbs. … Parts were pretty much obsolete for it.”

Vancil and the rest of the school board made the reader board a priority during last year’s budget discussions as a way of expanding communication with students, parents, teachers and community members.

“It is going to be used to inform the community about events at the high school,” said Vancil. As an example, last week’s message conveyed information regarding parent-teacher conferences, he said, which falls under the district’s plan to broaden communications.

Another priority in getting the reader board replaced was to remove the physical presence of a large broken electronic device at the front entrance of the high school. During budget discussions, the former reader board remained in front of the high school with large signs in English, Spanish and Russian covering up the broken lights. Vancil said that gave the high school a poor face to the thousands of commuters who pass by the sign each day on Highway 214.

“I…believe that a broken reader board makes it look like we have a broken school, and I wanted to give it a new face,” said Vancil.

While the school board originally discussed ways of selling advertising space on the reader board to local businesses as a means to offset costs for the project, Vancil said that idea was put on hold after the school district addressed budget cuts in 2012-13 by combining administrative positions.

“That became a lower priority because we had people doing double jobs,” said Vancil. “It is still being considered, but I honestly don’t know where we’re at with that right now.”

In the short time the new reader board has been operational, Vancil said the school board is pleased with the results.

“We think it is achieving its goal with improving information with the public and brightening the face of the school district,” he said.

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