School district continues building brick by brick
It seems like just yesterday that students raced out of West Linn-Wilsonville schools for summer vacation, but with the first day of school slated for Aug. 29, the 2017-18 school year is only a couple short weeks away. That date marks both the end of summer as well as the beginning for two new schools in the district: Meridian Creek Middle School in Wilsonville and Sunset Primary in West Linn.
While the opening of those facilities are the biggest projects for the school district this summer — totaling roughly $67 million between the two — the school district has also been hard at work on a variety of lesser projects in the past couple months. Between a slightly earlier start date than years past and snow days that ate into the front-half of summer vacation, Operations Director Tim Woodley says it's been a sprint to the finish line to get everything done on time, but that he's optimistic both schools will be ready come Aug. 29.
Part of the 2014 capital bond, the district began both Meridian Creek and Sunset construction toward the beginning of 2016, but ramped up in recent months in order to be ready for the start of school.
"They're such huge enterprises, and there's hundreds if not thousands of people who all have a part in bringing it all together right at the end," Woodley says. "We're going to push right up against that first day of school, and there will still be construction going on into the year in some cases."
Despite permitting delays because of a Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) petition that pushed back the groundbreaking of Sunset Primary last winter, Woodley says Sunset remains on schedule. The school is budgeted to cost just under $26.5 million upon completion, about $2.5 million more than the original estimation of $24 million.
All street work and construction immediately surrounding the new building will be complete come Aug. 29, but Woodley says parts of the old building will continue to be removed into the fall.
"The parking lot will be built through the fall and we'd like to get that play field in and seeded this fall so that it can grow and sustain itself through the winter," Woodley says. "That way we hope to be able to use it in the late spring potentially."
While the play field won't be ready for the first day of school, Woodley says the playground and covered play-area directly behind the new school will be completed and available for recess. Between that space and the new, larger gym, he expects kids will be excited for recreation time.
"The playground equipment, they'll have as much and actually more than they had last year," Woodley says.
Minor construction will continue to take place during the first few weeks of school at both Sunset and Meridian Creek, but Woodley doesn't expect anything to disrupt classroom time.
Meridian Creek Middle School
Woodley expects Meridian Creek to follow a similar timeline to Sunset, with the football field and track receiving additional work into the fall. The entire project is projected to cost $40.7 million upon completion, which is slightly more than the originally budgeted $40 million. The district was able to add track and field components to the football field as well as additional landscaping, however.
"Meridian Creek will probably be similar to Sunset in terms of the timeline. We added a bunch of landscaping and athletic event pieces to the field so that it's a full performance track. We added that kind of late when we knew that we were doing OK on the financial side — including high jump, long jump, discus and shot put areas that will all be part of it — and that will go on during the fall, too," he says.
The Meridian Creek parking lot is finished as is all the street work on Advance Road and the Stafford and Boeckman Creek intersection, which the district was responsible for as part of its conditional permit with the City of Wilsonville. Woodley admits there's still a lot to do, but he's optimistic teachers will be able to enter the building and begin setting up their classrooms as early as Aug. 22.
"I think we're in fairly good shape. The new schools have received probably 99 percent of the furniture and it's in the buildings now," Woodley says. "Classroom materials for Meridian Creek and Sunset teachers are currently boxed up and waiting to be delivered to the classrooms for teachers to unload.
"We try really hard to give them a week before school starts to prepare for the year."
Existing middle schools
While Meridian Creek students will get a completely new school, Woodley says the district allotted about $1 million of the 2014 bond to go towards updates at WL-WV's existing middle schools. That includes renovations to bathrooms, new carpet and flooring at Rosemont and Athey Creek in addition to a new roof and parking lot at Wood. Athey Creek received a new ceiling in its library and new lights in the gym, and the portables at Wood have been packed up and removed for good.
"There's been some focus on the three standing middle schools for various things that were getting worn out," Woodley says. "Those three middle schools have been a priority for us this summer."
Other major projects
The district also hopes to conclude a long list of smaller construction projects throughout West Linn and Wilsonville before the 2017-18 school year starts. The most obvious projects to the naked eye, however, will take place at Trillium Creek Primary, Cedaroak Park Primary and Wilsonville High School.
Two outdoor garden spaces at Trillium Creek have been enclosed, creating two additional instructional spaces for students and teachers. It's the same project that Lowrie Primary enjoyed two years ago, and Woodley is excited about the impact it will make on a school that has become crowded in recent years.
"Trillium Creek, we're enclosing those two outdoor roof gardens with instructional space and that's coming along well. It will really help them because their numbers remain high in terms of students and this will give them two more instructional spaces."
Cedaroak Park students, meanwhile, will notice a new fence surrounding the school's perimeter which will provide safety and security. One of the few schools in the district with classrooms that are separate from the office, library and gym, Woodley says creating a fence that allowed for convenient access while remaining aesthetically pleasing was difficult, but he thinks staff and students will like what they see.
Wilsonville High School will also get a new entryway, but Woodley says the project likely won't be finished until just a few days before the start of school. The new entryway is ADA accessible, allowing wheelchair access, and will also add security.
"It's one flat plane instead of having stairs, it will have more lighting than it had before, and then when you go as a visitor, there's a new entryway straight into the office, and the front doors will always be locked so that you have to go through the office during school hours. It has a lot of benefits that will make it look better as well as more safe and secure."
Woodley added that there will also be new seating in the courtyard and all-weather turf so that kids don't have to wait in the mud before or after school.