Close-up look at North Marion renovations
Piece by piece, the North Marion School District makeover is moving toward its completion, and overseers of the project appear pleased with what they've seen.
The district's Bond Oversight Committee took a two-hour walking tour through the campus' four schools Wednesday, Sept. 30, as project manager Kieron Spellman of Wenaha Group led the members while pointing out all the changes, inside and out.
A $42 million bond passed in 2017 spurred the project, while additional funds leveraged from a variety of sources — including bond sale premiums, a state matching grant for bonds, bond interest, energy trust incentives, Measure 98 grant funds and seismic grants — boosted that total to just over $56 million.
"So we've added about $14 million to what the voters approved. We actually got everything done that the bond requested, plus the locker rooms and middle-school seismic work," Spellman said.
NMSD Superintendent Ginger Redlinger delighted in what she saw along the tour.
"We renovated the whole campus for less money than it costs to build a new building," Redlinger said.
She joined other members of the group in a playful moment, as a handful of them scaled up the new playground climbing apparatus installed at the intermediate school. Playgrounds at both the primary and intermediate schools were part of the makeover.
Moving inside, the schools are all being equipped with secure vestibules, all with cameras and new entry doors. All bathrooms have been remodeled, except two newer ones at the primary school. A number of new, single bathrooms for staff and special situations have been added.
The intermediate and middle schools received new roofs. Spellman said the middle school roof was scheduled to be completed by Oct. 1, but recent hazardous air conditions created by wildfires delayed that work.
"We had about a week and half when air quality was so bad OSHA (Oregon Occupational Safety and Health) didn't allow outside activities for construction workers, and the air quality inside the middle school was pretty bad — bad enough that we lost crews for a couple weeks."
The middle school roof is due to be completed in the coming weeks.
Spellman said work in the primary and intermediate schools is virtually finished, "except for a couple of bits and pieces."
In addition to the new roof, the middle school received a completely new mechanical system, and, as at the other schools, newly remodeled administration areas with a security vestibule and remodeled restrooms.
High school focus
The bulk of the work has been at the high school, with a timeline running through 2020. Spellman said it is on target to finish near the end of the year so it would be ready for students and educators to use following Christmas vacation — if they can return at that time amid COVID-19 safety protocols.
The administration area and front entry of the high school were razed entirely, and now the shell of its rebuild is intact as work progresses.
The major scope of work included a two-story classroom wing, a completely gutted and remodeled area for career technical education and a music/arts wing and fortified special-education areas.
Before that work, CTE, arts and music classrooms were in separate buildings.
"Now the high school is going to be one fully connected building," Spellman said. "It's getting a brand-new administrative suite at the front of the building. On top of that, we had a seismic project remodel of all the locker rooms, seismic upgrades to the gym and new gym roof."
Earlier projects included the school's track and a new parking lot at the middle school, while ongoing work includes a new parking lot area at the high school with around 100 additional parking spaces anticipated on campus.
There was even enough savings in the budget to engage plans for sprucing up the district headquarters parking lot.
"I love the new building: The colors, attention to extra details, and the space in the classrooms are amazing," NMHS Principal DeAnn Jenness said. "I can't wait until our students can come back to the building and the whole high school is completed."
In November 2017, North Marion School District voters approved a $42.2 million bond for facility expansions, upgrades and improved safety. It passed with just over 60% of voter support.
The first bond project involved renovating the high school track, which was completed two years ago and commemorated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 14, 2018.
Subsequent plans saw reconfigurations of the primary and middle-school parking lots. Improvement plans also called for aforementioned seismic upgrades for gymnasiums and locker rooms, while most of the bond money was earmarked to improve the district's oldest building, its 70-year-old high school.
A central part of that improvement is the two-story wing, for which a groundbreaking ceremony took place in May 2019. That now connects the school's main building with the one housing career technical education and art programs.
Highlighted visions within the project stress safety, inclusiveness and a boost in student opportunities.
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